NIANTIC, Conn. – The playing field is level at Phase One, 31B (Military Police) Military Occupational Specialty Transition Course. Whether you have no experience in law enforcement or a lifetime’s worth, there is a challenge for everyone.
For two weeks in late April, 24 U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard students from across the country partook in the reclassification course hosted by Connecticut Army National Guard 3rd Battalion, 169th Regiment Regional Training Institute, at Camp Niantic, Connecticut.
The course’s first phase focuses on the role of Military Police in a garrison environment. Students were instructed and evaluated in the classroom, with both instruction and hands-on training during the first half of the course. The second half took Soldiers into real world scenarios with a law enforcement training exercise.
“We want to make the scenario training as realistic as possible for the Soldiers,” said Master Sgt. Gerald Vanacore, Chief Instructor of the 31B MOS-T course. “We utilize our experienced instructors as role players in order to try to replicate situations that are happening in current events.”
During the law enforcement training exercise, Soldiers were assigned partners, and the pairs were dispatched to one of five incidents taking place on post. Incidents included civil and domestic disturbances, a sexual assault, a shoot-don’t-shoot scenario and a traffic stop.
As Soldiers approached the scenarios already in action, they were inundated with loud music, moving vehicles or aggressive individuals and were given little time to think and react. .
“We have set up super scenarios with a lot of moving parts,” said Staff Sgt. Kimberlee Ruppar, an instructor with 3-169th Regt. (RTI) and also a full time Connecticut State Trooper. “We want to reiterate that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and you need to be prepared to react quickly and efficiently.”
Following each scenario, Soldiers were evaluated on their performance by instructors. Even though the students were certified on the MP tasks during the first week of the course, the evaluation gave the instructors the opportunity to point out weaknesses in an effort to correct them. .
“The best thing you can do is make mistakes here,” said Sgt. Gloria Gerena, an MP with the 143rd MP Company, and a role player during the exercise. “We are here to exploit [the Soldier’s] weaknesses so we can give them feedback and help them to improve.”
According to Sgt. Jasmyn Butryn, formerly a food service specialist with the 361st Military Police Company, U.S. Army Reserve out of Ashley, Pennsylvania, the method works.
“The scenarios show your weaknesses, and when they are pointed out, it makes you want to do better,” said Butryn. “Even in the short time I have been here, I have seen my own improvement, and it’s a good feeling.”
Although Butryn has been attached to a MP Company for two years, she has no law enforcement experience. A self-described adrenaline junkie and a nursing student, she now thinks she may take her medical career into the direction of law enforcement, possibly exploring the field of correctional nursing.
“This course has sparked a huge new interest in me, I think I might be enjoying it too much,” she said.
With no law enforcement experience, Butryn faced no shortage of challenges as she learned many new skills, but for Sgt. Dan Parlapiano, a Connecticut National Guardsman assigned to the 143rd MP Company and a civilian police officer for over 20 years, he was surprised by the challenges he faced.
“Although some things are a review for me, I am learning a lot here, and I can see areas that I can improve” said Parlapiano. “No matter how much experience you have, or how many times you have done something, the instructors here remind you that you can never get complacent.”
Parlapiano was impressed by the role players in the exercise scenarios, “They do a great job being in character and realistic,” he said. “With public safety and in this MOS, you have to get hands on. Being able to cuff a prisoner and drive a police car makes this training is as real as it’s going to get”
After completing Phase One, both Butryn and Parlapiano as well as the majority of the Phase One class continued on to Phase Two of the 31B course that focuses on MP skills in a combat environment.
The class of 24 students, three from the Connecticut Army National Guard, graduated as Army MPs in a ceremony on May 19 at Camp Niantic.
The RTI will hold the 31B MOS-T course again in August of 2017 and will host two more sessions in 2018.
If you are interested in attending this course or any course at the Connecticut National Guard Regional Training Institute, talk to your chain of command or call your local recruiter.
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