Some of the best things in life are free

The High Risk Entry Facilities (HREF) at the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center offer world-class SWAT training for free to officers and agencies

Editor’s Note:

Editor’s Note: Today we feature an item on the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center at Volk Field, Wisconsin, about an hour northwest of Madison. NCTC provides officers and agencies with top-quality, cost-free training. Similarly, FLETC’s numerous campuses from Georgia to New Mexico, and FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama offer training without cost to cops. We want to know about others, so email us if you’ve taken advantage of free tactical training.

Law enforcement officers learn early on that when something sounds too good to be true it probably is. So given that mindset, try to imagine this: a location where your high-quality training is free, your lodging is free, and your meals are free. All you have to do is find the place. In 2009, 11,700 law enforcement officers not only found the place, they received some of the highest quality training available. The cost? You guessed it: nothing. The location?  The Northeast Counterdrug Training Center.

Too Good To Be True: Northeast Counterdrug Training Center
“The Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC) is one of five National Guard training centers serving law enforcement and demand reduction specialists,” explains Captain Kraig Kiehl of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. “As our name implies, we serve the northeast region of the United States from Maine west to Wisconsin and south to Virginia. We have two campuses to cover that 18-state region: one at Fort Indiantown Gap in Central Pennsylvania and one at Volk Field, Wisconsin, about an hour northwest of Madison. We also export training throughout our region. All that training is taught by subject matter experts that bring the latest information from the street to the classroom. As you know, the threat is always changing and current, relevant training is the best way for officers and coalitions to keep a step ahead.”

Kiehl says that NCTC offers more than forty different courses — on topics as wide-ranging as Grant Writing, Introduction to Narco-Terrorism, and Social Networking. Courses like Basic Warrant Execution, take advantage of NCTC’s High Risk Entry Facility.

“We have entry facilities at both of our campuses that have multiple rooms where officers can breach doors and encounter targets that shoot back along with smoke and sound added to make it more realistic,” Kiehl says. “The houses have more than one hundred cameras and microphones to record every angle and teams can review their performance after each scenario. Even our classrooms are high tech with distance learning capabilities and the latest presentation technology.”

What many students consider the best part of the National Guard Counterdrug schools is that all the training is offered at no cost to the officer or agency. NCTC even covers the cost of the meals and lodging at both campuses so all the student has to do is get there and train.

High Risk Entry Facilities (HREF)
The classrooms at the facilities are state of the art. The High Risk Entry Facilities (HREF) are multi-level, constructed to allow for the design of training scenario’s that can be conducted in surroundings that are as real as it gets.

SWAT teams are quickly discovering that by sending the members to warrant classes they are able to experience many repetitions of high risk warrant services in accurate mock-ups of flea-bag hotels, businesses, classrooms, and fully-furnished apartments. At designated locations they can use distractive devices and breaching rams. Simunition weapons and equipment are provided at the facility. There is even a PRISM in the “HREF.”

To add to the realism, the National Guard technicians — who are incredibly friendly, professional and helpful — can add music, voices, dogs barking, screams, gunfire, smoke, and even odors to the environment that you are approaching. The emotions felt and the tension experienced on the approach is as close to the real thing as one can get in training, right down to the chill running down your spine and the sweat glistening on your forehead.

The value of returning to the classroom after each scenario to watch your performance and debrief can’t be overestimated. The cameras are taping all the action from multiple angles: your approach, your entry, and your performance inside the target. It is an opportunity to debrief yourself like you have never done before.

CALEA Accreditation Manager JoAnn Tresco proudly has this to say about the facility, which has opened its door to assist law enforcement operate more effectively and more safely. “NCTC’s (Northeast Counterdrug Training Center’s) accreditation through CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, puts it among the top training centers in the nation distinguished for best practices. NCTC is the only CALEA accredited military operated law enforcement training center in the nation.”

Karen Bartuch, President of the Women’s Tactical Officers Association and an Officer on the Chicago Police Department who has trained at the facility says she was “very impressed with the facility.”

Her partner Officer Bridget Herlehy says, “The instruction allowed officers to train for real life scenarios.”

The top-notch professional staff runs the HREF at Volk Field with the efficiency of any crack U.S. Military unit. They operate the highly technical facility with the skill and care of an airborne ranger folding his own parachute. The team of Blader, Bender, Hernandez, Scott, Glass, Berzinski, Miller, Jensen, and Poor, ensure a memorable training experience, whether an entire team or an individual officer is in attendance.

Check it Out
In a time where agencies are experiencing budget cuts, hiring freezes, and even lay-offs administrators have had to say “no,” to many requests to train, because of too few training dollars available. Northeast Counterdrug offers high quality training at the right price. Sounds too good to be true, but seeing is believing. Check it out at

About the author

Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor, and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou

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  3. Police Training

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