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Tactical team benefits from 'invaluable' scenario training

BAXTER — Law enforcement officers, weapons in hand, breached doors to a home on Isle Drive.

The effort turned a few heads from passing vehicles on a snowy Thursday afternoon. But the arrival of the Crow Wing County Tactical Response Team wasn’t in response to an actual crisis. The home, slated to be torn down, provided a real setting for tactical team training.

When Nystrom & Associates planned to build in Baxter and tear down the Louie Hoffmann home on the property they purchased, the goal was to get as much public benefit from the home as possible. Habitat for Humanity was given the opportunity to take out interior items. And both law enforcement and the Brainerd Fire Department were contacted to see if they wanted to use the building for training.

“It’s invaluable,” said Baxter Officer Matt Maier, of being able to use the most realistic training possible. “This is rare. We usually don’t get these types of training scenarios. It’s nice to be able to get them when we can.”

The Crow Wing County Tactical Response Team and used the home for training in March and April.

Crow Wing County Chief Deputy Denny Lasher, tactical team commander, said when the economy was booming and people were tearing down cabins, homeowners donated use of homes at a rate of six to 12 houses a year. Now, Lasher said, they are lucky to get one per year.

Being able to use a home for training without worry of damaging it from breaking windows to breaching doors is a rare opportunity. Lasher said it’s a chance to train at “life speed” which is something they aren’t able to do anywhere.

The tactical team was able to train with multiple scenarios, using chemical munitions and nonlethal equipment, including noise/flash distraction devices — cylinders that create a sound boom and white light.

Lasher said the team benefits with training done in the most realistic setting at the same intensity and with the same equipment that would be used in a real situation.

Lasher said they were also able to test and evaluate a robot complete with camera, used by throwing it through a window and operating it in the home by remote control. Such a tool could be invaluable in a standoff situation, instead of putting tactical team members at risk, Lasher said.

The tactical team has about 14 members. Crow Wing County oversees it with participating members from Brainerd, Baxter and Breezy Point police departments and tactical medics from North Memorial Ambulance. The team handles everything from felony arrest warrants to hostage rescue and everything else in between, Lasher said.

“We can’t say thank you enough for today and getting the ability to train in that house,” Lasher said.

Anyone interested in donating a home for law enforcement training may contact the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department. Nystrom & Associates expects, weather permitting, to begin construction on an office building at the Isle Drive site in May or June.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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