Members of the Colorado Buffaloes football team got a unique opportunity to experience how law enforcement officers train to handle life-and-death situations.
The project is a collaboration between the City of Boulder and University of Colorado police departments, who gathered Wednesday morning with members of the CU football team for the second annual “Training Day With the Buffs.”
The concept arose a year ago in the wake of the protests and racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and around the nation. CU Associate Director Lance Carl approached the Boulder PD about doing a joint session, and the training day evolved.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Buffs offensive lineman
Jr. “It’s amazing how fast they have to react and what can be at stake. Football players have to learn to make split-second decisions all the time, but to see what they have to face and what the consequences could be is really interesting.”
Players participated in mock scenarios where they went in as armed policemen — and some of the situations didn’t end well. In a few instances, players made snap judgments and fired on suspects, only to discover that the suspect had been reaching for a cellphone in his pocket. Other times, players had their guns plucked from their holsters and were “shot” by the suspects.
“When I make a split-second decision and it goes wrong, Sefo (Liufau) gets sacked and complains,” offensive lineman Jeromy Irwin said. “When these guys make a split-second decision, it’s a life-and-death situation and somebody could get shot.”
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Players also were trained to use a battering ram to enter a locked door and had the opportunity to take target practice with different weapons.
“We’re just trying to build a better relationship between the police department and the athletes and expose them to what a police officer may face on the street every day,” said Boulder PD Operations Deputy Chief Curtis Johnson. “We want to have the opportunity to interact with them and get to know some of our employees. Likewise, for our police officers, it’s a chance for them to meet the young athletes who are here in Boulder.”
“They were having fun and truly interested in what we do,” Johnson said of the players’ reaction to the training day. “Some of these players want to be cops and to be honest, we’d love to recruit them. They’re going to get a degree here, they’re fit and they know the community. They’d be great employees.”