Written by Sgt. Leejay Lockhart
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Fort Campbell, KY – Military police from the 716th Military Police Battalion, supported by the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, trained on responding to domestic violence incidents February 26th at Fort Campbell. The scenario was the final portion of law enforcement training on how to safely respond to a domestic violence call and professionally handle the situation.
Soldiers from the 163rd Military Police Detachment, 716th MP Bn., ran the scenario out of an unused residence on the installation.
Teams of MPs going through the law enforcement training cycle would arrive at the residence, receive a brief on the scenario, and then proceed as if it was a real domestic violence call. Inside they encountered role players portraying the victim and their spouse.
The MPs would then have to assess the situation, questions those involved, and take the perpetrator into custody.
However, the scenario didn’t end with arresting the suspect. They had to simulate taking the alleged perpetrator to the police station, questioning them and filling out all of the paperwork associated with the incident. Throughout the entire exercise the trainers were providing feedback and tips to the Soldiers.
“One of the most volatile situations a MP can walk into is a domestic violence situation and this just kind of prepares them for actually responding,” said Sgt. Ronald J. Wheat III, a military police investigator assigned to the 163rd MP Det. and one of the lead trainers. “We did the walk and crawl phase earlier in the month and this is there actual eval. This is as close as we can get to a real domestic situation without actually having one.”
MPs patrolling the roads respond to reports from those involved in domestic violence incidents or from neighbors calling in reports. Part of the scenario required the responders to try and gather as much information from the dispatcher before they arrived at the residence, including if there were registered weapons at the residence, if there had been any previous domestic violence at the residence, and any other information provided by the person reporting the domestic violence.
“Most of the time it is after the where the victim calls us and says this is what happened,” said Wheat, but he added that it could have been a neighbor that heard something or one of the parties calling in while it was happening.
Once at the scene, the MPs had to enter the home, gather facts about the incident, and then safely apprehend the role player portraying the perpetrator. Wheat and the other trainers provided ways to de-escalate the situation.
“Safety is important to the point that everything we do revolves around it – where you situate your subject and your victim, you keep eyes on your partner and you’re never alone,” said Wheat. “It’s officer safety all the time. As long as at the end of the day everybody gets to go home at the end of their shift we can figure out everything else.”
The training also had the MPs filling out all of the paperwork associated with the incident, and the trainers gave them tips on how to do it accurately and efficiently, recording as much information as possible for any future criminal trials.
Specialist Brian Coates, a MP assigned to the 218th Military Police Company, said he learned how to defuse the situation and correctly do the paperwork during the training. He said the training taught him to remain vigilant in every situation he encountered.
“Not taking things for granted, [you’ve] got to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings at all times … you can keep people calm by talking to them differently, by asking them different questions, being more friendly with them,” said Coates. “I’m going to be more open to people, pay more attention to the subtle things.”
Many of the MPs on Fort Campbell having a rotating cycle of duties that include patrolling Fort Campbell, working the access control points to the base, and training for both law enforcement and deployment missions.
However, military police investigators like Wheat and other Soldiers from the 163rd MP Det. are a resource the first responders can use even outside of the training environment to help make Fort Campbell a safer place.
“We investigate general crimes that take more assets than what the normal military police patrol can handle during their tour of duty, so anything that requires substantial investigation over a period of time is what we do,” said Wheat.
As Soldiers cycled through the training, Wheat said they were doing a great job with the scenario and learning as went through it.
“Training has went great,” said Wheat. “They’re taking every critique and every personal experience that myself and the role players have and they’re taking it to heart. They’re putting it in their tool box and hopefully they’ll be able to apply that later on when we work with them in the next couple months.”
As he finished his scenario, Coates said it had been really helpful and had given him some different ways to approach a domestic violence situation. He spoke about why it’s so important for an MP to be ready to respond when the times comes.
“Because that person who had it done to them they’re calling for help,” said Coates. “You’re going to help them, stop whatever happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”