Sailors moved well beyond their professional "lanes" and comfort zones for a training course that taught them basic law enforcement skills in support of Naval Support Activity South Potomac's Auxiliary Security Force. The bulk of NSASP's newest ASF members are assigned to the Aegis Training and Readiness Center; two others serve as culinary specialists assigned to NSASP. Leaders from NSASP praised the 17 Sailors for their performance during the challenging three-week course at a graduation ceremony Dec. 20.
Dave Fredrickson, security director for NSASP, welcomed the new ASF members into the law enforcement fraternity. "I want to let you know that the ASF has been an extremely critical asset and part of our [police] department," he said. "When I say part of our department, you are our brothers and sisters-in-arms. I want to welcome you to our team as part of our team."
"I'd like to congratulate you on completion of the course," added Cmdr. Elvis Mikel, executive officer of NSASP. "You are very valuable members of this team. As recent events at the Navy Yard has shown, we're not immune to violence here on CONUS bases, whether from terrorists attacks or internal attacks. You help us ensure that this installation is safe and secure. Thank you."
Molding a diverse group of Sailors into ASF members was a responsibility shared by instructors at the NSASP Police Department, among them Capt. Steve Mullen. Mullen gave the group high marks for their dedication, perseverance and skill. "My first impression of this particular class was that I had a very interested group of Sailors and although some didn't sign up for the class or the duty, they were ready for the experience," he said. "Most, if not all the students were very actively involved daily with questions and wanting to know more."
The Sailors learned a variety of law enforcement skills, including security checkpoint procedures and active shooter training.
Mullen thanked members of Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWCIHEODTD) for supporting live-fire training at Fort A.P. Hill for the ASF Sailors, who achieved proficiency with M9 pistols and M4 carbines despite cold temperatures.
"Some of the ASF Sailors had never handled or shot these weapons, so for most of them to get their shooting ribbons was a milestone," said Mullen. "This class was full of the warrior spirit and the adapted well to unforeseen schedule changes, inclement weather conditions and my long classes."
For many Sailors in the ASF course, the toughest part was OC pepper spray training. While OC pepper spray is an important law enforcement tool, it is also something that members of law enforcement may themselves encounter. Teaching the ASF members how they can overcome the painful burning sensation and safely do their job was a task that could only be accomplished through practice.
As part of the training, each ASF Sailor was sprayed with OC by instructors. Then, the Sailors had to "fight through" a series of training stations, where they accomplished difficult law enforcement tasks such as arresting a non-compliant suspect and defending themselves with batons.
"I was anxious about getting sprayed, but once it happened all that went out the window," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Matthew Elliot, moments after he completed the drill. "All I was worried about was finishing the exercise. It hurt, but I remembered what the instructors told us to do. You definitely feel like you completed the course when you finish it."
Elliot said the training was an interesting change of pace for himself and his new ASF shipmates, as well as an excellent chance to see a different side of the Navy. "It's exciting," he said. "FCs, we usually work on consoles, computers and equipment. This course showed us some action. You get some physical [activity] and learn new things, like holds. It's stuff you can take with you after the Navy, too."
While Elliot respected members of law enforcement before the course, completing it gave him a newfound appreciation for the challenging nature of the job. "I know not to mess with law enforcement now," he said, laughing as he recovered from the effects of pepper spray. "If I see that OC I'm giving up."