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Stadium becomes training ground for law enforcement

Hagerstown Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Office have been training in driving tactics and use of force

March 26, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown City Police negotiate their way through a high speed safety course held in the Hagerstown Municipal Stadium front parking lot on Wednesday.
By Chris Tilley, Staff Photographer

If you saw police with guns drawn outside Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown last week, or what appeared to be a body in the parking lot, it was all part of training exercises, city police said.

City Police Capt. Mark Holtzman said the Hagerstown Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Office have been training in driving tactics and use of force at the stadium since March 20.

Friday was the last day of training last week, Holtzman said. Police will continue training Tuesday and April 1, Holtzman said.

Hagerstown police train annually in driving tactics and use of force, but this was the first time the department has gone through the training with the sheriff's office, he said.

About six trainers conducted the exercises, training about 15 police officers each day.

As part of the exercises, police created a course to work on driving, practiced deploying spike strips to disable vehicles and practiced using force to take a suspect into custody.

Holtzman said police went through what is know as the "use of force continuum," which ranges from empty-hand defensive tactics — like arm locks —; and pepper spray, to using batons, tasers and guns.

Actual guns were not used during the training, however. Instead, officers used Glock training sidearms that fired special nonlethal ammunition, Holtzman said.

The training pistols are as close to the actual weapons carried by police that they could get, he said.

It was also the first time police used the parking lot of Municipal Stadium for its training, he said. It provided a more urban environment, while giving police the flexibility to incorporate use-of-force training with driving-tactics exercises.

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