Last Tuesday morning, Fran Hanlin climbed out of a white patrol car, touched the 9mm pistol in his holster and advanced on the sedan in front of him, wanting to see the driver's license and registration. He was barely abreast of the window when Warren City Police officer Sean Strong cried out, "Gun! Gun!"
Hanlin drew his pistol and fired several rounds through the window before retreating to confront a man advancing on the opposite side of the car. Hanlin fired five more rounds and the exercise was complete.
Hanlin, a member of Warren County's Probation Department, was one of 16 law enforcememnt officers who participated in a tactical shoot organized by the local Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 83 at the Brokenestraw Fish and Game Club.
Times Observer photo by Dean Wells
Mock traffic stop
Fran Hanlin, left, of Warren County’s Probation Department, goes over last minute details with City of Warren police officer Sean Strong and Warren County Prison officer Matt Wallin prior to a simulated traffic stop exercise during last week’s tactical shoot held at the Brokenstraw Fish and Game Club.
Minutes before the simulated car stop, Hanlin was sucking wind after doing a round of push-up, hurtling a wall of hay bales and fired a clip while lying on the ground through a hole in a plywood wall at a row of targets the size of soda cans. "That's why this stuff is good to do," Hanlin said, his breath coming out in ragged gasps. "You don't normally do this stuff."
Hanlin glanced back at the course.
"Oh my God I didn't think I'd get over the hay bales."
Putting law enforcement officers in stressful situations that might affect their aim was exactly the point of the tactical shoot, said Sean Strong.
Strong, a seven-year veteran of the Kissimme, Fla. police deparment who spent six years with the department's SWAT team helped coordinate the tactical shoot at the suggestion of FOP vice-president Lt. Jason Peters, of the Conewango Township Police Department.
Strong pieced together the FOP's tactical shoot using elements from various shoots he had participated in. The shoot consisted of five different stations, opening with 25 push-ups and a dash for cover before firing on a row of targets, and ending with a simulated traffic stop.
"The main thing I hope they take away from this is they have to move and shoot and utilize cover," Strong said. "(Tactical shoots) are very important for every level of law enforcement. It's designed to make you think outside of the box."
It's also designed to accurately simulate conditions officers might face in the field.
Hence, the push-ups.
"They tire out your arms, you have to control your breathing, you have to control your motions," Strong said. "You have to calm down, relax and have a smooth trigger pull. The main thing is you want to get the adrenalin going, you want them to get out of breath. Doing push-ups and running, you will pull a round."
Officers from Warren's City Police and the Conewango Township Police Department participated in the tactical shoot, along with Warren County Jail personnel and two local constables.
Warren City Police officer Joe Sproveri took "Shooter of the Day" award for his performance.
"I think it went exceptionally well, especially for being the first one we organized and had," Peters said.
Peters said the FOP plans to make the tactical shoot an annual event. "It's going to be one of those things that just keeps getting better once the word gets out," he said.
The FOP is a non-profit organization that benefits police officers by providing extra training, legal support and assistance with contracts and attorney fees.
"That extra training ultimately benefites the community, giving better officers to serve the community," Peters said.
Additional support for the shoot was provided D&I Custom Gunsmithing; Stateline Auto, who provided the cars used in the simulated traffic stop; Custom Strong Trailers, who provided welding services for targets; Warren Company for the steel used in the targets; and Carter Lumber for plywood used as cover.