Jonesboro Police Train for Riot Control

JONESBORO, AR -- They are training for your safety, but it's for their benefit too. We're talking about the Jonesboro Police Department's Riot Control Training.

Chuck Habermehl is an expert trainer here to teach Jonesboro Police Officers how to handle a riot situation.

"He brings an expertise and an experience to the table that we don't get from anywhere else," says Sgt. Todd Nelson of the JPD.

And it's knowledge that can be vital to any police force.

"The amount of people involved in a civil disturbance and the amount of injuries that occurring, both on the police side and the demonstrators side, it's really important and it can happen anywhere at any time," says Chuck Habermehl, the expert trainer.

They trained for what's called an officer or victim rescue. This technique is used to rescue the victim caught up in a riot, usually one that is spontaneous. They're not able to get themselves out of the dangerous situation and therefore, the officers must get in and extract the victim.

"Obviously in a riot, nobody's throwing tennis balls, but those tennis balls represent bricks and bottles and it lets the officers know that when they feel the impact of a tennis ball that that could have very well been a brick or a bottle and so it adds a little more realism and a little more stress to the training," says Habermehl.

Their goal is safety so they must perform their job all in an effort to avoid any injuries on either side of the tense riot.

"Although the victim is the number one concern, officer safety is paramount because again if we're left there, somebody else has to come get us," says Sgt. Nelson.

Not only is the victim in danger, but as soon as the officers enter the scene, they are putting themselves in a hostile environment as well. The key is for everyone involved in the rescue to make it out ok.

"It's a dangerous assignment, but if the training is like it should be and the equipment is like you've seen here with the shields, the helmets, and the face shields and all the coordination that goes into play with one officer and the other, then it can be a whole lot safer," adds Habermehl.

This week's training session trained about half of the Jonesboro Police force. The other group will begin their training in a few days, as Police Chief Mike Yates hopes to have the entire force trained for this type of situation.