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Patrol cadets injured



Published: Sat, October 28, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The patrol defends the exercises as examples of potential threats to officers.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Sixteen of the 41 cadets who graduated last week from the State Highway Patrol Academy were injured during tactical training exercises that include wrestling, punching and kicking, records show.

Five cadets and a trooper had injuries that required emergency room treatment, including a dislocated shoulder, dislocated elbow, a broken nose and finger, back and rib pain, and a concussion.

Injuries should raise concerns, said R. Paul McCauley, a criminology professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa., who has studied police training.

"The question is, is there something defective or wrong with the trainers, the equipment and the training protocols?" he asked.

Five-year record

From 2001 to 2005, 27 cadets reported injuries during the academy's "high-intensity tactical training," which involves cadets fighting with troopers to simulate unruly arrests, according to patrol records.

Most police and patrol academies have self-defense training, but officials at several other programs said injuries aren't as frequent or severe as those in Ohio. Over the last two years, one state police cadet in Indiana broke a foot, and 22 cadet injuries in Michigan during the latest 20-week program were considered minor.

The State Highway Patrol in Ohio defended the physical exercises and said they are designed to prepare cadets for difficult real-life situations. Cadets wear protective gear during more intense training when they wrestle troopers posing as suspects onto their stomachs and place handcuffs on them.

"We don't look at (the injuries) as severe -- a separated shoulder, a broken finger," said Staff Lt. Shawn Lee, director of operations at the academy. "Not being prepared and having to bury a couple of troopers, that's the last thing we want."

Value of exercises

The physical exercises show cadets how to handle situations without using their weapons, said Ken Pence, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University and a former SWAT trainer. Because of this type of training, there are fewer incidents in which police are killed with their own guns, he said.

The number of injuries suffered by Ohio cadets don't seem high, he said.

"A good high school football program would have the same number of injuries," Pence said.

Ohio officials said they have no plans to change their teaching methods.

"I'm always concerned about injuries," said Maj. Peyton Watts, who runs the academy. "If the cadet is injured, it hampers their training. We do all we can to minimize the injuries."




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