By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
Training was conducted last week on Fort Knox for law enforcement officers who wanted certification as master trainers—permitting them to return to their agencies and train other LEOs to use radar and lidar (also referred to as laser). The process may have raised a few heart rates.
Lt. Ron Reyna, training officer for Fort Knox police, knew he needed more officers trained on the department’s lidar units and he found available training in Jacksonville, Fla; however, that course would have cost $1,500 per person—money the department didn’t have. Reyna researched further and found a company named MPH Industries, which offered radar and lidar training for $300 per person. However, if Knox would agree to host the training and get at least 10 other students, the Owensboro, Ky., company would agree to train the Knox LEOs on a scholarship basis.
MPH was even willing to do the advertising, so Knox agreed to host. The result was 20 officers attending from around the state; other communities were just as happy as Knox was to find an inexpensive alternative to quality training.
The course is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the course certifies the law enforcement students as master instructors so they can train officers at their home stations.
“It was quite a deal; we were able to train four officers without leaving home, do the training in our own conference room and avoid TDY (temporary duty) costs altogether,” said Reyna.
In addition to the four Fort Knox officers, Fort Campbell also benefitted by sending four of its law enforcement officers while Elizabethtown, Jeffersontown, and Campbellsville departments sent representatives. One sheriff from Marion County (Indiana) and a constable from Anderson County, Ky., also attended.
The officers had to already be certified law enforcement officers and certified radar operators. They had to pass a basic proficiency test before the advanced training began. Part of the training asked them to estimate speeds for targets—both moving and stationary—and they had to be within 3 mph on the estimates to pass that segment of the training.
Lidar has many advantages: it can be used in all weather conditions, it has pinpoint accuracy to the vehicle being targeted; it can track a vehicle and determine if it speeds up or slows down and it’s very effective against radar detectors (which, by the way, are illegal to operate on the installation). The lidar’s negative feature is that it must be used by a stationary operator.
The two-day training incorporated testing, troubleshooting of the equipment, hands-on practice as well as oral presentations to gauge officers’ potential as trainers.
On the final day of training, the 20 police officers were all practicing lidar usage around post. Some lidar units resemble binoculars on a stick, which led to a telephone traffic jam. Apparently many people called the MP desk to report someone taking aim at motorists—which was true—but there were no weapons involved; people were mistaking the lidar units for weapons.
While the police on post have always been well-trained, many communities these days are being sure to cross their Ts and dot their Is after a case in Texas. A motorist contested his speeding ticket in Houston and further review of records revealed many police officers there had no documentation of any radar training, while many other radar guns were not being accurately calibrated. According to Larry Abel, the MPH instructor who is a veteran of the Army Reserves as well as the Kentucky State Police, the documentation lapses resulted in 10 years’ worth of speeding tickets—more than $2 million—being refunded.
In Kentucky, radar certification has been necessary since 1955, and Reyna said Fort Knox has always required certification for its officers. With this master training certification, however, he said all Fort Knox law enforcement personnel—civilian and military—will receive training on lidar and refresher training on radar.
“It will be much easier to accomplish because now I can provide the training without requiring our other trainer to leave road patrols,” Reyna said.
In summary, the certification class allowed Fort Knox to train its own officers, save taxpayer dollars and even trouble-shoot the radar equipment.
“Speed enforcement is very important to safety on post,” Reyna said. “All squad cars on the installation are equipped with forward and rear radar capabilities and now we can significantly increase our lidar usage.”