Port Angeles: Prospective reservists find that practices makes perfect

PORT ANGELES — With their guns drawn, three police officers approached a door propped open by a broom handle.

They slowly entered the dark warehouse.

The door closed behind them, throwing everything into blackness.

Their flashlights illuminated small circular patches of the dark floor and surrounding walls as they slid around a corner and toward an open room.

“Police!” yelled one of the officers.

A man stepped from behind a wall, arms raised above his head, knees sinking to the floor at an officer’s command, and the officer stepped forward to restrain him.

A moment later, the man was handcuffed and answering questions.

The situation could happen in real life, but on Saturday the officers carried rubber guns, handcuffed trained officers and got some of their first field experience as part of a reserve police officer training academy for law enforcement agencies across the North Olympic Peninsula.

“The main thing is to give them a practical application,” said Port Angeles Police Cpl. Kevin Miller, who coordinated Saturday’s mock exercise.

“They’ve got a toolbox full of knowledge, but they haven’t been able to apply it.”

Twelve people sponsored by Neah Bay Public Safety, Forks, Port Angeles and Port Townsend police, Lower Elwha Klallam tribal police, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department have met for training three times a week since the beginning of January to become volunteer reserve officers for the agencies.

By their graduation in early May, they will have completed more than 300 hours of training to be state-certified reserve officers.

Smaller departments such as Port Townsend, Sequim and Elwha police use reserve officers to supplement their regular patrols, Miller said.

Larger departments like Port Angeles’ use reserve officers as backup in patrol cars, for traffic control or to assist with crime scene security.

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