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Students search building for suspects
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Team leader Josh Sasser and David Keating follows the knock-and-notice procedure prior to entering the building. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin
It wasn’t life or death.

But most students of Joe Waller’s Careers in Law Enforcement classes treated the building search exercise Monday as just that.

This included the foursome of Josh Sasser, Ruben Lopez, David Keating and Chris Rivera. They not only nabbed the suspects but, according to Manteca Police Department officer April Smith, did so in a “controlled and concise” manner.

“They worked well together,” said Smith, who is also the School Resource Office at Manteca High.

That’s also where the building search exercise took place. Specifically, the MHS field house at Guss Schmiedt Field.

Smith along with fellow officer Eva Steele – she’s also the SRO at Sierra High – provided instructions to students of Manteca Unified’s Regional Occupational Program.

According to Waller, Smith earlier talked to his classes about patrol procedures while Steele covered search and seizure.

The building search exercise consisted of four-member teams – a leader, an arresting officer, and the other two covering the rear and right side of the back-to-back formation – entering the field house equipped with prop weapons.

But before entering, they had to first knock on the door and then give notice by properly identifying themselves.

The team of Sasser, Lopez, Keating and Rivera, for example, acted as a federal agency.

Sasser filled the role of team leader.

“Even though it was a simulation, you still feel responsible for your fellow team members,” he said.

Added Lopez, “We each had a job,” he said.

His was to provide coverage to the rear, with Sasser leading the way by barking out commands in a loud, clear, and direct manner.

The two SROs also applauded his decision making.

“He kept control of his team and treated (the exercise) as if it was life or death,” Smith said.

In the process, the team flushed out the two hidden suspects inside the field house.

“I was kind of nervous putting on the handcuffs,” said Rivera, who was the arresting officer.

His team came away successful and unscathed. But not all were as fortunate during the day.

“Eleven teams have done it. Seven have ‘died’ including an entire team. One team shot and killed a victim, and got sued for everything,” Smith said.

Waller praised all of the teams. “A group from Weston Ranch was as good as any,” he said.