The Cheshire Police Department will soon be utilizing a state-of-the-art facility located in Milford in order to better train officers for live-fire situations.
At the Town Council meeting on Aug. 10, Cheshire Police Chief Neil Dryfe requested authorization to utilize that special training facility, explaining how it will help local officers better prepare for dangerous eventualities.
“(The Town of) Milford got a grant from the government to create this regional training facility … they have a hold harmless and indemnification agreement that they require other communities to enter into,” Dryfe explained.
A hold harmless agreement is a statement in a legal contract that absolves one party, or in this case both parties, from legal liability for any injuries or damage that may happen during training or while using the facility.
Dryfe went on to talk about how the opportunity to use Milford’s facility — expected to be utilized by the Cheshire-Wallingford Emergency Response Team — came about after a space suddenly opened up at the facility. Taking advantage of that opportunity, explained Dryfe, would require quick authorization from the Council.
Councilor Peter Talbot raised the question of accessibility, specifically whether the facility would be open to those who are not a part of the Cheshire/Wallingford team.
“Is (the facility) available for individual officers that you wanted to send for some specific training?” he asked.
“Yes, once we enter into the agreement, we’ll have the ability to go down there on a more regular basis,” Dryfe answered.
Dryfe then explained how the Millford facility works and what the CPD will have to do upon receiving approval from the Council.
“It’s probably the only facility like this in the state, so it does get a lot of use,” he said. “ And to pull people off the road and to get them down to Milford to use the facility can be a little bit of a challenge, but once the agreement is in place, part two of what I have to do internally is send one of our supervisors down there to become certified by the Milford Academy staff as a range safety officer. Once we have that in place, we could go down there whenever it’s available, and if we had the staffing available.”
Councilor Tim Slocum asked Dryfe about how the Cheshire-Wallingford Emergency Response Team currently works.
“What are your operations within the SWAT group? How do they practice now?” he asked.
“They do a lot of what we call ‘simunitions’ training, which isn’t live fire … by the way, they aren’t shooting each other,” Dryfe clarified. “But (the new facility) allows them to experience a much different environment. When there are real bullets going off, it’s a much different feeling.”
Dryfe explained that, most of the time during training, the officers are using ink bullets or even fake guns, which at times make it messy and expensive to replace damaged items after each training exercise, but is a less high-stakes situation.
“(The facility provides) a much more realistic training environment, which I think is unfortunately something our officers have to be prepared for,” Dryfe added.