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Students get taste of flushing out suspects
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Robert Moreno, a student in Joe Waller’s Careers in Law Enforcement class, leads his four-man SWAT team consisting of Maurice Farnsworth, Francisco Nieto and Gregory Silva through a building-search exercise last Friday inside the Manteca High field house. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
Some 70 students in the Regional Occupational Program’s Careers in Law Enforcement classes at Lindbergh School and New Vision were faced with the task of flushing out and apprehending a suspect.

They received classroom briefing along with a recap and more training from Manteca Police Department officers at the Manteca High field house last Friday, according to instructor Joe Waller.

The exercise was the same as that of the Special Weapons and Tactics, involving team-work from each of the four-person groups.

“You could see the cohesiveness come together in such a short time,” said Waller, speaking on behalf of the successful teams. “I was amazed at how closely they paid attention to the instructions of the leader.”

A few groups, however, made the mistake of getting ambushed or risked one of their own being held hostage.

“In each case, the odds were stacked against them,” Waller said.

Officers even demonstrated the use of flash-bang grenades – the very ones used by police entering a building during drug raids – to one of his classes.

The group of Robert Moreno, Maurice Farnsworth, Francisco Nieto and Gregory Silva found their suspect – in this case, fellow ROP student Michael Berry – hidden somewhere on top shelf of a broom closet.

From there, they followed proper police procedures in arresting the suspect.

“These exercises are very realistic,” Officer Ian Osborn said on Monday.

Students were armed with dummy guns rather than the soft ammo air weapons used during the past two years of conducting this police-training exercise to ROP students.

“Still, the place was filled with anticipation,” Waller said.

With possible danger lurking at every corner of the dimly lit room, students were advised to keep a cool head while focusing strictly on the task at hand, according to Waller.

“It usually comes down to them having to make a split decision,” he added.

During his years with the Manteca Unified program, Waller used to take his students to the police shooting range to sample the use of firearms. But that changed recently with the opening of the nearby Big League Dreams sports facility.