Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) officials are touting the benefits of its Marine Law Enforcement Training Program (MLETP), providing water safety courses to mentally prepare officers for field survival.
“It is about keeping your wits about you…and surviving a situation rather than panicking,” Jeffrey McDonald, FLETC Driver and Marine Division Jeffrey McDonald, Marine Branch chief, said.
The prime focus of the initiative, officials said, is to train officers to combat fear and panic, which would allow life-saving actions within the critical first few seconds of a potential rescue attempt.
“The first time a law enforcement officer experiences the fear of fighting for his or her life in the water shouldn’t be when it’s actually happening,” Brian Nestler, Physical Techniques Division instructor and an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor trainer, said. “It should be when they are in the water with a trained professional.”
Initial training dynamics addressed such topics as creating floatation devices from clothing, staying afloat, and basic swimming skills. The course list has since grown to provide training on swim assessments, hypothermia, survival strokes, Helicopter Emergency Egress Device (HEEDs), buddy rescue, vehicle egress, weapon and gear handling, and unexpected entry with aggressors in full gear.
“The water can be ruthless, violent and unforgiving,” Nestler said. “Our job is to prepare law enforcement officers to survive in this unpredictable environment.”