Mission to Africa – Class is in session

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Post written by PA3 Victoria Bonk

Law Enforcement training aboard Mohawk
Seaman Chloe Hicks, a boarding team member from Mohawk, and ME1 Edward VanRiper perform a mock boarding as part of ongoing law enforcement training. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Victoria Bonk

As we enter our eighth week of our West African deployment the crew continues to do different types of training. Throughout this deployment the most frequent training the crew has been doing is law enforcement (LE).

Qualified boarding officers (BO) and boarding team members (BTM) aboard Mohawk led training sessions covering everything from properly wearing LE gear to the use of deadly force.

“I have been a part of the LE team for about a year now and I still go to every training as a BTM and learn something new at every training session,” said Seaman Chloe Hicks, a crewmember and boarding team member aboard the Mohawk. “It has placed me on a path that I will follow through with for the rest of my time in the Coast Guard.”

One of the first things the crewmembers worked on was learning about conducting a boarding, how to carry themselves during a boarding, or your “officer presence.” This becomes part of every interaction members have in an LE setting and includes things like the way they stand, speak, walk and so on.

ET3 Lugo protecting his weapon
ET3 Gregory Lugo protects his weapon from BM3 William Jordon during law enforcement training. Coast Guard Photo by PA3 Victoria Bonk

Instructors then taught members what to do with noncompliant persons during a boarding as well as learning the proper verbal commands and task direction when they don’t comply.  The classroom training also includes more physical endeavors, such as how to properly handcuff someone.

“The Mohawk’s focus on law enforcement training is centered on the base values of the Coast Guard; training individuals,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tolliver, the Law Enforcement Officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk. “We are giving our junior enlisted as well as junior officers the tools needed for success in the Coast Guard.”

ENS Timulak protects her weapon
ENS Alana Timulak protects her weapon from ENS Katherine Murray during law enforcement training. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Victoria Bonk

“During my time here on Mohawk, I have attended many sessions of LE training; from learning the legal jurisdiction and authority we have, to the application of techniques we use in order to maintain our control of any situation we may be engaged in,” said Seaman Justin Morgan, a crewmember and boarding team member aboard the Mohawk. “Learning all the information and skills was no easy task, it took dedication to the training and absolute attention to those instructing me.”

One of those qualifications, probably the most dreaded, is the certification to carry Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), or pepper spray, as part of the standard LE equipment. Pepper spray is a non-lethal tool used for a multitude of Coast Guard operations including routine safety inspections aboard commercial vessels to more tactical law enforcement missions. In order to carry OC, members get sprayed with the chemical so they understand the implications of exposure in the event that they have to use it in a real life scenario.

As we continue our deployment, the BOs and BTMs will continue to reinforce the LE skills and qualifications so that every member can be ready for whatever may arise on the rest of this deployment and future patrols.

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