Military Police, Brandon Police Benefit from Joint Training Exercise

Members of CFB Shilo’s 1 MP Regiment demonstrate an active shooter scenario as part of a simulation training exercise alongside the Brandon Police Service’s tactical and hostage negotiating team. Credit: Jules Xavier
Members of CFB Shilo’s 1 Military Police Regiment demonstrate an active shooter scenario as part of a simulation training exercise alongside the Brandon Police Service’s tactical and hostage negotiating team. Credit: Jules Xavier

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CFB Shilo: Shilo Stag

As part of the base’s force protection and security exercise, Canadian Forces Base Shilo Military Police and the local Brandon Police Service handled a simulation dealing with an active shooter and hostage taking.

This unique training opportunity between the military and civilian police services was a tremendous benefit to everyone, according to Base Commander Lieutenant-Colonel John Cochrane.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had the opportunity to have Brandon Police Service (BPS) actually participate in one of our training scenarios,” he said.

“We rely on civilian police forces for this type of security scenario. This is their area of expertise and jurisdiction,” said Lieutenant(Navy) Greg Ansley, Platoon Commander of 1 MP Regt Shilo Pl. “There is always value in conducting joint training and sharing resources and knowledge.”

For a week, CFB Shilo Military Police and the Base’s Auxiliary Security Force conducted a security training exercise which saw both gates manned, with all motorists arriving having to show photo identification.

With the active shoot simulation, part of the response this time to the situation involved BPS’s tactical team.

“This was a great opportunity for us. Coming out here it is something totally different from where we usually train in Brandon so it takes everybody out of their comfort zone,” said Staff/Sergeant Marc Alain of the BPS. “We really need to think about covering all the points we need to cover. Whenever you have this type of hostage situation you want to make sure you have the right people in place to deal with it.”

S/Sgt Alain conceded the change of scenery, and working with the military police, was good for his tactical team and hostage negotiators. “This scenario could happen, so we’re ready to assist them,” he said in a post-simulation interview with the media. “With a hostage situation, you want to have the right people dealing with it. Sure, we’re here to apprehend the bad guys, but we’re here also to help the MPs to ensure people are safe.”

Knowing a military base is home to individuals who train with weapons, S/Sgt Alain pointed out an active shooter scenario meant his team had to think differently.

“There’s going to be lots of talking once you bring in your hostage negotiator. You need to gather intelligence. This is all about communication … you want to secure the release of the hostage.”

What makes a good negotiator?

“You have to be able to talk,” offered S/Sgt Alain. “You have to be analytical … be able to read people and hear what they are saying. Sometimes you have to read between the lines.”

A person who shows empathy towards the “bad guys” is also a valuable tool, according to the veteran BPS officer.

“You sometimes have to show understanding of what that person is going through. You need to have an understanding of what that person is looking for so you can bring the situation to a peaceful resolution.

“What does the person want? It takes talent being able to build trust. If we give you what you want, what are you giving us back? You do this by building trust.”

S/Sgt Alain said a simple gesture of offering the hostage taker water and food can open the door to the eventual release of a hostage, with no one getting hurt on both sides. During this scenario, however, gun play led to the BPS tactical team going in to free the hostage, with one gunman killed and the other taken into custody.

“When you have shots fired, then the negotiator gives way to the tactical team,” noted S/Sgt Alain.

With this inaugural joint training exercise now history, S/Sgt Alain is open to hosting Lt(N) Ansley and his MPs at a similar simulation, but this time in an urban environment that brings with it different challenges.

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