Police and Fire Training Together

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02-16-07 They perform different jobs, but are now working together to fight crime in a new way. Sherman police officers and firefighters have developed a cooperative program. The program is designed to share knowledge to teach each other how to serve the community more effectively.

As part of the new program, fire marshals first attend the police academy, becoming certified peace officers. They're able to make arrests and carry a gun. Afterwards, they spend the next few weeks learning police skills firsthand.

Both agencies hope this new training will help fire marshals and officiers in their criminal investigations.

"We realized that when fire marshals come out of the police academy it's necessary to have some experience to go along with that training," said Tom Watt, Sherman police chief.

The experience comes from an eight week program where Asst. Fire Chief Richard Johnson is learning how to use those skills firsthand.

"I learned how to do a traffic stop, how to make contact with a person, how to be safe in doing so," Johnson said.

Johnson's lending a hand to police investigations as well.

"He's assisted me tagging the evidence, making it secure in the evidence locker and all of that," Detective Steve Northington said. "With the sheer magnitude of it, it's definitely been a 2 man job. It's come at the right time."

The departments are often called to the same scenes. For example, both police and fire responded to the Dolalr General fire in November. Johnson and Northington arrested an arson suspect together.

They hope partnerships like these will help solve more cases in the future.

"It's just the fact that our investigators can work with the CID group or the detectives or the patrol officers and preserve that evidence, make good cases," said Jeff Jones, Sherman fire chief said. "It's a benefit to both departments."

Johnson is the first Sherman fire department employee to participate in the program. There are four investigators total. Both departments are planning for all four investigators to participate in the program as well. The departments will also have more training opportunities in the future.