May 22, 2011

School of Hard Knocks

VASSALBORO – Many college kids are heaving sighs of relief as they finish finals and head home. The same holds true for those who have recently entered the field of law enforcement and are wrapping up their 18 weeks at Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA). They receive grades as well – it’s the tests that are slightly different.
Throughout the course of their stay at the MCJA, cadets are trained in various fields, from criminal and traffic law to alcohol enforcement and much, much more. One of the courses is the Mechanics of Arrest Control and Restrain (MARC), where they learn the basics of placing a subject under arrest (you can read more about this in the December issue “Hands-on Learning”). But in order to show that they have not only learned the maneuvers, but can apply them under duress, the cadets participate in scenario-based testing towards the end of the academy. The cadets are put under stress, and then have to “arrest” an instructor – who doesn’t make easy.
“It’s important for cadets to be prepared to begin working on the road,” said Sgt. Scott Hamilton, one of the lead MARC instructors at the academy. “[The scenario fights] build confidence and show them they can accomplish their goal of taking people to jail.”
With approximately 44 cadets, it can take awhile to go through the scenarios and the grading. MARC instructors from across the state, some who have been assisting with the MARC course, assist with the scenarios, which can leave lasting impressions. Helping out can mean scrapes, bruises and more.
“I do it to make the cadets better and give them a real-life experience,” said Marine Patrol Officer Rustin Ames. “We want to prevent them from getting killed on the road.”
The scenarios are designed to be difficult, but for good reason. Altercations on the road are intense and don’t follow the rules you’d see in boxing or even Mixed Martial Arts fights.
“The practical scenarios simulate an actual encounter on the road between a combative subject and an officer,” explained Hamilton. “It allows the cadet to hone their skills in a controlled setting.”

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