Greenfield - The lieutenant responsible for keeping Greenfield's police officers sharp has won the highest state award given to law enforcement trainers.
Lt. Jay Johnson was named the 2011 Law Enforcement Training Coordinator of the Year by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Training Officers Association.
Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt isn't surprised.
Johnson is dedicated to ensuring realistic, quality training for the officers and has been the driving force behind expanding and increasing the frequency of training, Wentlandt said. For example, he devises training exercises based upon real incidents in which officers have been hurt or killed so Greenfield police can be more prepared to sidestep danger.
Johnson also developed an innovative training regimen that puts officers through defensive situations using Simunition-equipped firearms and realistic training settings, Wentlandt said.
Simunition-equipped firearms shoot tiny paint balls.
"(Trainees) actually get shot and shoot back," he said. "It completely changes the stress level."
To up the realism even more, Johnson designed a practice set with doorways and hallways that police now use in practice. Two officers, Les Piotrowski and David Lange, actually constructed the set.
And when electronic stun guns came into police use, Johnson developed and taught the department's training curriculum, Wentlandt said. He even is an instructor for other area departments.
Also, daily roll call brings five-minute refreshers on all sorts of police topics, such as the laws and ordinances surrounding search and seizure and use of force. Johnson creates each of those messages.
Finally, recognizing the need to offer self-defense training for women, Johnson conceived and created the department's FAST (Female Awareness and Survival Training) program, developing a curriculum that trains women to be aware of their surroundings so they can avoid victimization and to use self-defense tactics, if needed.
The chief called Johnson an idea man and a follow-through guy.
In addition, Johnson is commander of the third shift and of Greenfield's canine unit, overseeing all training and certification of the department's police dogs.
Johnson joined the department in 1992 as a patrolman. He has been a police dog handler and served on the SWAT team. He also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Johnson refuses to take the credit himself.
"I got the award, but a lot of people helped me get there," he said.
Lots of fellow officers had good training ideas that he could incorporate, he said, and others actually built the training set that he designed.
"I'm surrounded by people who always want to improve," Johnson said.
He agrees that he has a passion for police training.
"There's a sense of satisfaction when you're helping them stay safe," he said. "We're dealing with life and death and people going home at night."
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