Area law enforcement trains for riots and large crowds
GONZALES- Nearly two dozen law enforcement officers from around the state and region spent the day training in tactical gear for possible riots and large crowds.
They want to make sure they are ready for any situation. Last year, we saw first hand just how tense things can get. That's why today's training was so important.
With speakers blaring to simulate a loud crowd, officers learned how to communicate and watch each others backs as they were clad in full riot gear with helmets, pads, vests and batons.
"Individual officers can become frustrated and overreact to situations," Trainer James Morgan with the Company Safariland said. "They are taunted and baited into situations. More importantly, it's not being able to make decisions under certain circumstances."
James Morgan flew in from California. He's using what they learned during the Los Angeles riots, Ferguson, and Baton Rouge protests to train these guys on how to best stay calm, but enforce order on the streets.
"What we hope is the first amendment rights of those that come out to protest are protected," Morgan said. "That's our ultimate goal. We want to make sure everyone who voices their opinion has the ability to do that without being interrupted by someone with an illicit agenda."
The equipment weighs at least 15 pounds and can be grueling. That's why they train with it so they can get used to it.
In July, we saw mutual aid response from law enforcement around the area coming to assist Baton Rouge Police. It happened as protesters took to the streets on Airline Highway and Government Street following the shooting death of Alton Sterling. Restoring order was a priority.
"You have to train together. agencies will have teams, mobile field force teams," Colonel Paul Robert with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office said. "They may do things different. You don't want to find out differences in an actual situation. you want to train together."
Tonight, this group will take back what they learned to their law enforcement agencies so everyone is on the same page.
'We certainly hope we won't have to use any of this, but you have to be prepared in case you do," Robert said.
Last year, the City of Baton Rouge settled a lawsuit with Alton Sterling protesters over the way they were handled by police. Nearly 200 of them were arrested. At least 90 protesters walked away with clean records and about 230 dollars each after suing.