Base police perfect driving practices

1 Mar 2007 | Mr. Joel C. Guenther

If you are the kind of driver who gets unnerved or frustrated when facing a bit of heavy traffic or think that driving is merely going from point A to point B, then the Emergency Vehicle Operator’s Course for Police, would practically make you apoplectic.

Lt. Perry Mixon, lead EVOC instructor, Provost Marshal’s Office, and Sgt. Richard Flanigan, assistant EVOC instructor, taught 11 Marine and civilian officers last week in a 40-hour course designed to test and train both a student’s knowledge and skills driving under adverse conditions. Participants spent 24 hours in the classroom and 16 hours in hands-on scenarios including serpentine patterned driving, various forms of parking exercises, figure eights and evasive steering sometimes driving a pattern in reverse.

The program at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is modeled on the Marine Corps Drive Safe Program in accordance with regulations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The program is designed to certify and recertify military and civilian police in driving tactics.

EVOC consists of three days of classroom preparation and two days of driving on the course, Mixon said. “We place a lot of stress on the students; stress they can handle.” The entire program is based upon what officers are likely to encounter on the street. According to Mixon, no student he has taught has ever failed to qualify.

Each student gets about two hours in the cars, under various driving conditions, with an instructor in the car to give guidance and make suggestions. Think of it as taking the state driving test with your career in the balance.

Although not quite that harsh, the exams and driving tests do train and test the skills of the most stoic officer. If a student fails a particular segment of the course, then they are given additional training time on that segment until they pass it. The idea is to “put these people into actual situations where they have to make decisions and determinations resulting in a positive outcome,” said Mixon. Upon completion of the course, officers either gain certification or are recertified.

To introduce the students into each driving segment, students begin with three practice runs, carefully observed by an on-board instructor, who will comment and make suggestions. Students then take their scored run. If they do not knock over any of the barriers, and proceeded within parameters, then they pass that segment.

Officer Clint Pilke said the best thing about the course was, “riding through the cones really fast.” Officer La Cheryl Octavien said the best thing about the course was the driving and the most difficult was learning to do the shuffle steering. “You have to overcome bad steering habits,” she said.

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