The Meridian Public Safety Training Facility is on the cutting edge of training. Law enforcement officers from all over Mississippi now are receiving advanced tactical training in executive protection.
The school takes skill sets learned at the police academy to a higher level in order to provide very specialized security in a dangerous world.
The students are officers from various towns and agencies, from state troopers to sheriff's deputies. The officers are even housed at the training facility, living in Katrina cottages.
Participant Demarcus Wilburn says executive protection training is more important now than ever:
"In today's society, overseas, you have a lot of attacks on dignitaries that travel the world," said Wilburn of the Meridian Police Department. "So in other parts of the country they try to hurt dignitaries. Kidnap them. Kill them. So we're learning how to protect them."
State Trooper Cindy Searcy is one of a handful of women in the program, but she says it's important for female officers to get this training:
"If you have a female executive, a female principal, you're trying to protect, I think it's beneficial," said Searcy. "Some females prefer to have females protecting them."
The officers earlier participated in many driving exercises, but on this particular day the driving training was intensified with a high threat motorcade scenario.
There's a homeland security official overseeing this training, who can't risk revealing his identity. So we interviewed him without showing his face.
He says these officers will sacrifice their own safety in order to protect their principal. But they have sacrificed since the first day they put on a badge and a gun. And, he says, the model he was taught 25 years ago is still relevant today. They train like they fight.
"We train hard. We fight hard," he said. "We want these officers to go home to their families, because the sacrifice they give is posted on every wall in every town. They call it the fallen officer memorials. We want to limit that as much as possible."
In Part 3, the focus is on role playing as force protection officers use a real world scenario to put their newly learned skills in action.