Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Nearly a dozen spouses experienced the day in the life of a corrections officer during the 15th Military Police Brigade Spouses Crossed Pistols event Feb. 22 in the brigade company operations facilities.
“Crossed Pistols has been around since the early 2000s and is something that was implemented across MP regimens informally. Some units did it and some did not,” said Col. Caroline Smith, 15th MP Brigade commander, as she addressed those gathered for the event. “The purpose of it was to bring the spouses in and let them participate in some of the tasks your soldiers perform on a daily basis to give you an idea of what they do, what they’re trained on and just give you a glimpse of what we expect from them on a daily basis.”
The spouses completed four tasks including a mock oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray) drill, unarmed self-defense drills, a mock riot control formation and forced cell movement.
The OC drill, led by Staff Sgt. Cory Crawford, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th MP Police Battalion (Detention), included a short PowerPoint presentation about OC, the different types such as mist, foam and spray, and safety precautions, followed by a practical exercise, similar to what a soldier would go through in a classroom setting.
During the exercise, Crawford sprayed water in the family members’ faces who then ran through three obstacles “fighting off” potential threats before coming upon the “arguing inmate,” spraying the “OC” and giving the proper commands to contain them.
The unarmed self-defense drills, led by Staff Sgt. Kelvin Cedeno, HHC, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, included proper stance and pressure points throughout the body.
Brittany Thompson, spouse of Pfc. Christopher Thompson, 165th MP Company, 705th MP Battalion (Detention), said unarmed self-defense was her favorite for one reason.
“Taking down my husband,” she said.
“She completely took me down in USD,” Pfc. Thompson confirmed. “Once in a lifetime, won’t happen again.”
The riot control formation mock drill, led by Staff Sgt. Jesse Harris, HHC, 705th MP Battalion, included the spouses donning the protective gear including the bulletproof vest, elbow and knee pads and a helmet, and keeping formation with the other spouses so the mock threat couldn’t break through the wall of shields.
Finally, keeping the gear on, the spouses split off into teams of five for a forced cell movement simulation led by Staff Sgt. Christopher Cluts, HHC, JRCF.
This event is where Caroline Feeney, wife of 2nd Lt. Justin Feeney, 526th MP Company, 40th MP Battalion, said she learned the most.
“There’s a lot of stuff that you don’t realize goes into these guys’ work, especially all the steps and procedures. Being able to feel the gear is totally different than just hearing about it after a day of work, so it has been really interesting,” Feeney said. “The teamwork that has to go into everything, too. Yes, there is individual work, but especially in the forced cell having each person assigned to one body part is something you wouldn’t think about normally when they say, ‘We had a forced cell today.’ You’re not thinking that five people had to put 1,2000 pounds (of body weight) on an inmate.”
After the forced cell exercise, Thompson said she understood how exhausting the job can be.
“Being the right arm man and having to pick up the heaviest part of the body was a struggle in a small space with all this gear on,” Thompson said. “I see why he’s stressed and tired.
“It is hard, but I was training to go in the Army before I had my son, so getting to experience it is pretty cool,” she said.
Pfc. Thompson said he was glad his wife got to experience some of the tasks.
“I think it opens her mind up a lot to what we actually go through throughout the day. Stories are always something you can tell, but it’s never until you get hands on and actually experience what it is that we do that you get an appreciation for what it is that we actually do,” he said. “I think she’s doing absolutely amazing. She’s putting herself out here more than anyone else that I’ve seen.”