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VTNG's 172nd Law Enforcement Detachment tests skills

By Don Branum | Vermont National Guard | Jan. 20, 2021

JERICHO, Vt. – The Vermont National Guard's 172nd Law Enforcement Detachment concluded more than a year of training with an evaluation at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site Jan. 15-16.

Soldiers with the detachment are to deploy to support U.S. Army Europe and Africa, where they will conduct customs, traffic enforcement, investigation and force protection duties, said Capt. Shawn Slaney, the detachment commander.

An Observer, Controller and Trainers team from 1st Army’s 2-315th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 174th Infantry Brigade, evaluated the detachment’s Soldiers on a number of scenarios they might encounter during their deployment, including traffic stops, criminal investigations, and interpersonal disputes.

“I would like to say they did exceptionally,” said Staff Sgt. Alicia Foy, one of the evaluators. “Their Soldiers were motivated the entire time we were conducting the classroom instruction, and when they performed the law enforcement exercise, their performance continued to impress.”

The detachment first learned about its deployment in January 2020, said Staff Sgt. Zakery Hunt, the detachment readiness and training noncommissioned officer. He attended a conference in which the First Army outlined what tasks the detachment would need to master for the deployment.

The 172nd was reorganized from combat support to law enforcement in 2019, Slaney said. Since then, the unit has received certification on multiple law enforcement-related tasks, including crash reconstruction, drug recognition, speed detection using radar and lidar, and standard field sobriety testing, or SFST.

“I’ve heard of units conducting SFST training from certified instructors, but I’ve never heard of a National Guard law enforcement detachment attaining national certifications for all their Soldiers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Slaney said.

Staff Sgt. Skyler Genest, the deputy provost marshal, was instrumental in the detachment’s training efforts. “He personally organized the resources that allowed our Soldiers to attain the NHTSA certification,” Slaney said. Genest is also the chief of the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery.

Slaney added that partnership with local and state law enforcement agencies helped make these certifications possible.

“We relied heavily on networking with civilian law enforcement,” Slaney said. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

During the evaluation focused on interpersonal disputes, Soldiers displayed their use of conflict de-escalation methods, using the lowest level of force necessary to defuse the situation.

“We implement interpersonal communication skills into every training event,” Slaney said. “The lowest level, and what I believe is the most important, is officer presence and verbalization, responding to a call in a professional manner and using humility.”

The tools and certifications Soldiers have received during their predeployment training could also help them find careers in civilian law enforcement if they’re not already employed in those fields, Slaney explained.

The detachment’s next step is a full master essential task list evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas.

“We told them many times that they were one of the best units that we’ve trained in the Northeastern region we work in,” Foy said. “We are confident they’re prepared for their deployment.”