Friday, December 1, 2023
The Environmental Resilience Department poses with the award. Back L to R: Lee Bergey; Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley, Director of Environmental Resilience; Levi Moser. Front L to R: Theresa Sailor, Education Grant Writer; Melanie Helmuth, Urban Forestry Assistant; Acadia Imhof; Alexa Kennel; Brandi Devoe,... more
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Notice is given that Ordinance 5171, Amending Ordinance Violations Bureau, was passed by the Goshen Common Council on November 13, 2023, and approved and adopted by Mayor Leichty. Ordinance 5171 describes and continues the operation of previously established City of Goshen Ordinance Violations Bureau;... more
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Notice is given that Ordinance 5170, Regulation of Open Burning in the City of Goshen and Providing Penalties for Violations of Such Regulations, was passed by the Goshen Common Council on November 13, 2023, and approved and adopted by Mayor Leichty. Ordinance 5170 prohibits open burning in the... more
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Thursday, December 7, 2023, 7:30am
Downtown Goshen Economic Improvement District
Perceptions about militarization often come from two different perceptions: military equipment and military appearance.
One of the questions that has come up is why officers need to be ‘militarized’. That seems too often be meant in two different ways, and requires two answers.
Elkhart County has been witness to some tragic events involving active shooters or those threatening the safety of residents in recent years.
In 2015, a young man entered a local supermarket in Elkhart and fatally shot an employee and customer. In 2001, after an argument with a co-worker, a man returned to the Goshen factory he worked in and opened fire, killing one and injuring six others before taking his own life.
For the Goshen Police Department, the stark reality of the need for better equipment became apparent on December 11, 1998 when Officer Thomas Goodwin lost his life to a suspect with a rifle.
On the national level, the statistics of active shooting events have increased substantially. That is why Goshen Police and other local agencies in Elkhart County have received federal equipment with higher grade of protection.
There are two military surplus armored vehicles in Elkhart County, and both are primarily used by the Elkhart County regional SWAT team. Both provide something that squad cars do not, protection from firearms. They also provide protection from rifle rounds that soft body armor does not, and protection from thrown objects like bricks, bottles, etc.
It is an officer’s job to run toward gunfire, and these vehicles allow Goshen Police to respond to high-risk situations with a level of protection officers didn’t have before. The vehicles, a type of armored personnel carrier (as opposed to an actual tank by military terms) protect the occupants, whether that is officers, or rescued citizens, from multiple threats.
To clarify: Tanks, by definition, are armed with heavy firepower, strong armor and battlefield maneuverability on any terrain. The vehicles used in Elkhart County are defensive, with no firepower. They are in no way a ‘tank’.
Both of the vehicles in Elkhart County have been used outside of high-risk encounters. They have helped with search and rescue after the Nappanee tornado, and they helped rescue citizens for over a week along the river during the recent flooding. The larger of the two vehicles was designated a presidential escape vehicle and used multiple times for VIPs. Nationally they have been used many times to rescue citizens who could not exit an active killer event.
While agencies in this country can procure vehicles which are purpose built for such high-risk encounters, the price to acquire one is steep. To get such a vehicle would cost in the area of $300,000. Both of the armored vehicles currently used in the county cost the departments nothing to procure.
The other part of the ‘militarization’ question often refers to perceived appearance. Police have worn body armor over the last 50 years (as it became lighter and more viable for long-term wearing), but how it’s worn has changed significantly.
Across the U.S. in recent years, the trend of body armor is worn in an external carrier as opposed to the traditional look of hidden under the uniform shirt. There are multiple reasons for this change to exterior body armor.
Health: One of the most prevalent long-term injuries in law enforcement is to the lower back. These issues cost departments across the country large amounts of money in terms of time off work, labor to cover the injured officer’s vacancy on their shift, and insurance costs. While there are many factors that contribute to this, one of the biggest is the duty belt traditionally worn. What used to be a belt with just a handgun and a pair of handcuffs has evolved, as law enforcement has had to evolve to an ever-enlarged role of what they respond to and what is expected of them. More and more tools have been added to the belt. Radios, extra magazines, additional handcuffs, keys, Taser, gloves, etc. The weight, especially over the course of decades, can and does cause long-term lower back injuries. With the advent of external carriers that allows equipment to be moved from the belt to the vest, the bulk of the weight transfers from the hips, to the shoulders.
By moving equipment off the belt, it also allows officers to access it easier, even if they are injured. Any equipment carried by officers should be placed in a manner that allows both hands to access it. The external vest helps facilitate that need. An external vest is also easier to remove if an officer is injured and needs medical attention.
Comfort- Ask any officer that has worn their vest the traditional way, under the uniform shirt, and switched to an external carrier. There is no comparison between the two methods when wearing body armor in hot weather. While still uncomfortable, an external carrier is much better than body armor under the uniform shirt.
SWAT team: SWAT is an acronym that means Special Weapons and Tactics. Officers in SWAT teams are highly trained on multiple weapons platforms; they respond to dangerous scenes, like hostage situations or bank robberies. The Elkhart County SWAT team is a group bringing together officers from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, the Elkhart Police Department and Goshen Police Department.
SWAT is only at a scene if it is high-risk or has the potential to become so. That dictates offering team members as much protection as possible.
Aside from body armor, SWAT team members wear helmets.
Armor technology understandably starts with the military and then filters down to law enforcement. As advances are made, the gear changes to reflect those advances. A perfect example is the helmet. Over the years helmets in the military have progressed from a simple steel pot to lighter and stronger materials that offer far more protection to the head. This progression happens in law enforcement as well, generally a little slower. When we order helmets now, we are not ordering ‘military’ helmets. We are ordering helmets that offer a certain amount of protection to the head, and accommodate the hearing protection that we wear. We order what offers our officers good protection, the look of the helmet has nothing to do with it. The same applies to vests. As technology advances, so does the cut/material/capabilities of the vests. The vest is usually ordered in whatever color the cloth uniform is. Uniform color changes throughout the country based on the geographical area the SWAT team operates in. In Elkhart County that is both in urban and rural areas, so the team currently wears green.
One item of equipment that almost all our officers carry is a tourniquet. While you may not think of the tourniquet as ‘military’, it has as direct a link to the armed forces as our vehicles. Common belief up to the early 2000s was that if a tourniquet was applied to a limb for any significant length of time the limb would be lost. It was thanks to research by the military and experience in the field that it was discovered that was not the case. Out of testing from 2004 the C-A-T tourniquet was one of two tourniquets recommended for battlefield use. That is also the tourniquet issued to our officers. Credited with 2000 saved lives of service members, it has also been used by first responders in the U.S. to save many lives. Twice it’s been used by a Goshen Police Officer.
We absolutely want our officers to have the best protection we can provide to them. You only have to look at the number of officers killed in the line of duty in this country to see the need. From 2001 to 2019, 3,247 officers were killed in the line of duty in the U.S. During that same period 2,441 service members lost their lives in Afghanistan. If you would like to check the numbers they are at https://www.odmp.org/statistics and http://icasualties.org/. Law enforcement is not a profession that can train only for what we commonly encounter. We also have to train for low frequency, extremely high-stress events that have devastating consequences if not handled properly. Part of that training is the correct gear to protect ourselves and others.