8 Cleveland cadets hurt in combat training at state patrol academy
The injuries rekindled an issue Cleveland's police union has had with the city dismantling its own police academy
By Adam Ferrise
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Eight Cleveland police cadets were hurt last month during a hand-to-hand combat training exercise at the Ohio State Highway Patrol's police academy in Columbus, officials said.
Six of the cadets -- four men and two women -- went to a hospital for treatment. One cadet dislocated a shoulder and five cadets suffered concussions, said Cleveland Police Det. Steve Loomis, who was president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association when the incident occurred Dec. 12.
One recruit remained at the hospital because of a previous injury but was released less than a week later. The other five recruits were treated and released, Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers said.
Two other recruits suffered concussions during the training but were not taken to the hospital, Loomis said.
All of the cadets who were injured ended up graduating a week later, Sellers said. Two are on light duty with Cleveland police because of the injuries, Loomis said.
The training academy has not seen six cadets from the same class hospitalized at any other time in recent memory, Sellers said. The injuries rekindled an issue Cleveland's police union has had with the city dismantling its own police academy. The city has been sending recruits to Columbus in the wake of a U.S. Justice Department investigation that found new police officers were not being properly trained.
Cadets have been trained at the state patrol's academy since December 2015.
The six cadets were injured during a training exercise in which recruits fight off a training officer who attacks them. The exercise is called high-intensity training or dynamic training, Sellers said.
The exercise combines the totality of what the cadets learned at the academy, including de-escalation techniques, how to protect your gun and how to deal with an attacking suspect, Sellers said.
It ends with hand-to-hand combat.
An instructor will shout out instructions to the cadets during the fight, Sellers said. A doctor and a medic are on standby in case someone gets injured.
A new crew of medical professionals overseeing their first training exercise may have been overly cautious when they sent the six Cleveland recruits to the hospital, Sellers said.
Injuries do occur during the exercise, but the training academy takes an abundance of caution, Sellers said. Loomis -- a constant critic of the state patrol's academy and a proponent of bringing back the city's police academy -- disputed that, alleging that too many cadets were injured.
Loomis said the cadets told him that the harder they fought against the instructor, the more the instructor ramped up the fight.
"It was nothing less than a hazing in my opinion," Loomis said. "If this was a college training, it would be hazing."
The exercise is supervised by instructors with training approved by both the patrol and the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy, Sellers said.
Sellers invited police union representatives to watch the training if they have any concerns.
"Our academy is open to them anytime they want to come down and view the training of their cadets," Sellers said. "No one ever comes."
The state patrol also released the mandatory survey that cadets must fill out after the high-intensity training exercise. The majority of the 43 cadets who responded enjoyed or liked the training exercise. One cadet called it "rockin' awesome."
But several others gave suggestions. Two cadets said more instruction was needed during the exercise, and another said the instructor fought harder against some cadets than others. Two cadets said some protective gear should be used during the exercise.
"There's no reason to hurt them in these scenarios," Loomis said. "It's supposed to be instruction on techniques. It should be a teaching tool, not some guy coming up and fighting you."
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