Ready to be demolished, the former STAR Academy campus hosts law enforcement training

CUSTER, SD – In the skeletal remains of the old STAR Academy in Custer, a rare opportunity for Black Hills law enforcement to come together and train.

The Rapid City Pennington County Special Response Team, snipers, hostage negotiators, Rapid City police and firefighters, and even the South Dakota Highway Patrol were all there to practice an exercise. negotiating hostages in a way they don’t often – using campus grounds before they’re demolished.

“It allows us – because this building is going to be demolished – to do things that we normally can’t do at our training sites,” said Captain Tony Harrison, Rapid County Response Team Commander. City Pennington.

Snipers were hidden among the weeds and pointed at a window – a room where hostages were being held.

Entrance crews lined the hallways of the destroyed building, resembling a “modern war” scene, while hostage negotiators using cell phones communicated with hostiles.

All of these teams work collaboratively and cohesively to prepare for similar scenarios in real life.

“It gives each team – the bargaining team and the entry team and the sniper teams – the opportunity to work together and see what each other’s roles are, the dynamics and how things can be fluid as we work through these scenarios, ”says Ryan Cook, who served as the negotiating team leader for this training scenario.

Training? As realistic as possible to engage these participants with laser focus and tactical precision.

“This team is a team that saves lives – we’re only here to save lives – we don’t do anything other than that,” said Captain Harrison. “And so our goal is to be the best-trained team in South Dakota state, and I really believe we are.”


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Richard V. Johnson