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Sheriff’s department receives $10K grant for interactive training

Published 4:07pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department welcomed a $10,000 grant that will allow them to purchase an interactive training program that reduces risk to both officers on the force and the public.

The Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority provides grants through its Risk Avoidance Program (RAP), established in 1997 to assist with projects that reduce the risk of injury or danger to police officers and the public. The sheriff’s department, a member of MMRMA, has received grants in the past that have helped provide tools for officers to use, such as Tasers, squad car cameras and even pepper spray. The RAP grant will allow the department to purchase a $30,000 interactive training program, which will assist officers in completing necessary firearms training.

“The grants they give are usually for equipment or training to make the work place safer,” Undersheriff Rick Behnke said. “It all goes toward reducing injury to officers and the public.”

Behnke said that this interactive program touches on one of the most dangerous aspects of officers’ jobs — the use of their firearms in the line of duty.

“We train throughout the year and in the past, we’ve always rented this program,” Behnke said. “It is a video simulation system and the gun shows how and where the officer is shooting and then gives him tips on how to improve.”

In the past, renting the system from companies cost the department anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. Behnke said by purchasing the program, and going in halfway with Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, the cost is greatly reduced and allows for the departments to pay back their portion in less time.

“The other $20,000 that the grant isn’t covering has come from our training budgets,” Behnke said. “When the opportunity came to us, we wanted to take advantage of it.”

Behnke also highlighted the fact that other counties who have rented the program in the past will now be able to rent from their department, providing the sheriff’s office with another source of revenue.

“We’ll probably charge the same amount that we paid in past years to rent it,” Behnke said. “We can bring in some income by renting it to other counties who don’t have it.”

The program and instructor’s training are slated to begin in October.

“With renting, we were at the mercy of the company and we had to not only pay to rent, but also pay for overtime so everyone could train within the time limit,” Behnke said. “We have the luxury and we can cut some of that cost now, as well.”

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