It is a job filled with high-pressure and often dangerous situations, which is why most police agencies want their officers’ training to be as realistic as possible.
“Your heart rate is definitely getting up there and the stress, while simulated, is very real,” said Captain John Becker Jr. with the Troy Police Department.
A mere 90 minutes from home, about 20 SWAT team members from the Troy and Colonie police departments are going through a rigorous three-day exercise at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany.
“It’s like Disneyland for cops; the training venues that they have here at the SBTC are second to none,” Becker said.
He was not the only one in awe.
“They make it very realistic and that is the key to the training,” said Lt. Todd Weiss, Colonie Police Department Special Services team commander.
Opened in 2006 at the former Oneida County Airport, the sprawling facility is built to be like nothing else in the state.
“We have one mission and one mission alone and that is to train first responders in New York State,” said Robert Stallman, NYS Preparedness Training Center assistant director.
The venue allows first responders to train inside a school, office complex, homes, and other life-like settings. All of this is monitored from a state-of-the-art control room that can add variables like noise, lights, and even smoke.
“This is the brain of these facility, this is where all of the magic happens,” Stallman said.
In the 12 years since it opened, the 1,100 acre facility and its trainings have evolved with current events, including mass shootings.
“We are keeping up with the times. We are taking what happens in the real world and we are implementing those things into the training we are doing,” Stallman said.
Troy and Colonie’s SWAT teams consist of mostly veteran officers who believe the training is vital to helping them protect and serve.
“We are learning good tactics that are not only going to keep us safe, but [are] going to keep the people who we are looking for safe as well.” Weiss said.