"These guns are just like real Glocks (pistols). They will allow us to train officers in a very realistic manner," Sheriff Buck Foley said, showing off two cases of equipment containing plastic guns, ammunition clips and protective gear officers will wear during training sessions.
"Investigator Joe Boshears has wanted to upgrade our training program and equipment, and I authorized him to seek a grant," Foley said.
Working with Office of Emergency Management Director Darrell Zimmer, a Homeland Security Grant was obtained to buy equipment from KDL Solutions, a Mississippi based company, which has developed ALERRT, a program for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training to reach the best responses to active shooters.
"This case has about $15,000 worth of training weapons," Boshears said, of 10 officer training guns which shoot "sim rounds," simulated bullets, as opposed to plastic be-bees that most training weapons shoot. The kit also comes with one realistic "bad guy" gun, which shoots blanks. "Mountain Home has four or five of these, and no one else in the area has them. They are the latest in training technology," Foley said.
While Fulton County and other departments regularly train after establishing simulated hostage situations or other scenarios where an armed person poses a danger, the new equipment will allow officers to train under more realistic situations.
"These guns shoot 9 millimeter simunition rounds," Chief Deputy Al Roork said. "They are plastic projectiles with stain in them, that "pop" just like a real bullet. They sure do hurt when you are hit by one, and can penetrate the skin. That is why protective gear is worn by officers during training sessions."
Boshears said one of the factors that allowed the county to win the grant was its intention to invite other area police departments, who do not have the latest training equipment, to attend training sessions the department will offer.
"Izard County deputies, deputies from Howell and Ozark Counties in Missouri and state Game and Fish officers have already said they will train with us, and we expect many others to be interested" Boshears said.
"These training sessions will go beyond what officers were taught at the police academy," Roork said. "They will train under realistic, tactical situations, based on experience trainers have had in situations dealing with someone with a weapon."
Sheriff Foley said his department is fortunate to have Boshears and Deputy William Faucett, who are certified trainers who have taught at the Black River Police Academy.
Last year, Faucett developed an active shooter manual to educate area police, firefighters and educators on how to correctly respond to the threat of an active shooter in a local school.
The department has been using the old nursing home on Main Street, where the new jail will be built, for officer training sessions. It plans to quickly institute sessions using the new training equipment.
Fulton County officers will also soon begin training to get certified to use M-16 military rifles. Sheriff Foley recently obtained 8 of the rifles from the Arkansas State Police, so that every deputy will be equipped with a modern "long rifle."
"Some people think we live in a quiet, peaceful community, but a lot of people out there have guns and weapons, and our five guys (deputies) encounter tense situations everyday. I support doing anything we can do to help them and other officers know how to better respond to potentially violent situations they encounter," Foley said.
Chief Deputy Al Roork agreed. "Most people don't know what deputies face everyday. People get mad and grab a gun. There was a man with a knife last night (Dec. 9). This ain't Mayberry anymore," Roork said, voicing his support for more readiness training for officers.