Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2003
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Contact:  2003 Nevada Appeal
Author: Jill Lufrano, Appeal Staff Writer 
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Officers took their places hidden in shrubs, behind trees and in unmarked cars
surrounding the dark home.

Within a few minutes, officers broke down the door and had three suspects
suspected of drug trafficking in custody. One officer was shot and a suspect
may have been killed.

But if the raiders were going to make a mistake, Thursday was the day to do it.

"Something always goes wrong, but let it go wrong here," said Paul Pabon,
academy commander of the training division at the Nevada Department of Public

Twenty-two officers from Nevada, California, Utah and Kansas were playing out
their final practice scenario by raiding a "drug house" at the state Stewart
Center. The group participated in a 12-day Counter Drug Task Force training at
the Carson City site, learning surveillance, planning a raid, serving a search
warrant, gathering evidence and participating in a court trial.

An undercover detective working for Tri-Net, a drug task force of investigators
from Douglas, Lyon, Carson and Storey counties and the state, said the training
helps officers get a sense of working together.

"You're learning the resources you have available to you as a task force," said
the detective, who asked not to be named.

The practice is meant to simulate a real-life scenario. Officers are searched
for weapons before the event and given paint guns loaded with simulation
bullets. They leave a colored mark but don't hurt. Even though officers know
it's practice, the adrenaline runs high, Pabon said.

Carson City sheriff's deputy Jason Gault was shot after entering the house
during the raid. The shot struck his right side and could have caused injury
even with a bullet-proof vest if real, but the plastic bullet filled with red
soap only left a smear.

"I didn't know I got shot," Gault said.

The house was dark and the team was surprised with gunshots right away after
the door was taken down. Two shots back at the suspect hit her in the stomach
and leg.

Pabon, who organized the training, said officers go through discussions about
their mistakes after the exercise. It's hard to take the criticism, he said,
but it's worth the practice if officers don't repeat the mistakes on the job.

"So long as everyone learns something they can take home, it makes life easier.
I'm happy so long as they go home every night," Pabon said.
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