Established in 1999, the Florida Counterdrug Training Academy (FCTA) is a highly sought after training destination for more than 650 law enforcement professionals every year. The FCTA provides expert instruction in: Land Navigation, Movement Techniques, Mission Planning, Tactical Tracking/Counter-Tracking, Booby Trap Recognition, Field Medical Training, Maritime Operations, Weapon Marksmanship and other required skills.
The FCTA campus includes two 40-seat classrooms, one 20-seat classroom, a conference room, a tactical indoor training facility, a world-class obstacle course with outdoor classroom, a fitness facility, and billets for up to 60 students. The FCTA also has a dedicated 100-acre wooded training area and classroom used for tactical law enforcement training in a rural environment. Because the Academy is located at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, students can take advantage of the wide variety of exceptional training venues including the state of the art Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) Site and several automated firing ranges. This prime location, coupled with the highly skilled cadre, make the FCTA a vital partner to the fight against drugs in Florida.
The Florida Counterdrug Training Academy is operated by a unique team of seven non-commissioned officers (NCOs) with skill sets ranging from Military Police to Special Forces, and two active part time law enforcement officers. The staff consists of an NCOIC, Law Enforcement Liaison, four Instructors, an Administration NCO, and a Supply NCO. Their mission is to provide relevant effective training to law enforcement agencies on emerging tactics, techniques and procedures used by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and gangs for the infiltration, production and distribution of illegal drugs.
The FCTA also employs military specific skills to identify, create curriculum, and offer training to federal, state, and local agencies on emerging drug related threats and methods to counter the drug demand in our communities.
During 2009 the FCTA conducted 25 classes and trained 650 Law Enforcement Professionals in one or more critical skills that enhanced their ability to conduct safe and comprehensive counterdrug operations. During this period the staff and curriculum received high commendations from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Boca Raton Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and several others. In one particular incident an Officer who was fighting for his life in a shooting, expressed his gratitude and stated that the skills he learned at a recent Marksmanship Course at the FCTA played a big part in his survival.
The Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training (MCTFT) program is one of five National Counterdrug Schools which have been established to provide tuition free, counterdrug training to law enforcement agencies and community based operations. The Florida National Guard contracted with St. Petersburg College to coordinate training, develop curriculum, and manage the pool of over 300 instructors and subject matter experts currently serving the program.
The school is located at the Southeastern Public Safety Institute (SEPSI) Campus of St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida. SEPSI is a state-of-the-art facility with a wide variety of special features to enhance the training received. In all courses, the safety of law enforcement, military, and civilian lives is of paramount importance. Out of the total student body who used alcohol or any illegal drug in the past month, 61 percent were gang members. Additionally, out of the total student body who sold illegal drugs, only four percent NEVER belonged to a gang.
Bottom line, Join a gang and you will most likely abuse drugs and sell drugs to support your habit.
Throughout Fiscal Year 2009, MCTFT has continued their record of outstanding performance in the instruction of unique, tuition-free training covering all aspects of counterdrug law enforcement and related support for community anti-drug coalitions. During this year, MCTFT held 909 classes or broadcasts, and trained 410,105 students.
Since its inception in 1993, MCTFT has trained more than one million students throughout the 50 states and four U.S. territories by instructor-led classes, satellite training programs, CD-ROM independent study courses, and online “eDrug” training courses. MCTFT partnerships with local, state, and federal organizations strengthen our ability to provide the highest quality training available today. Training is offered through a variety of training methodologies including: Traditional, Drug Demand Reduction events, Distance Learning, On-Line “e-Drug” courses, CD-ROM and Tapes, and through Conferences. The productivity of each methodology is provided below:
MCTFT traditional course offerings progress from classroom lectures to “real life” scenarios that train attendees to utilize available resources to develop an investigation for successful prosecution. This year MCTFT conducted 483 traditional training classes and trained 39,126 students. Most of these classes were accomplished through Mobile Training Teams to ensure coverage of our area of responsibility. Requiring students to come to our physical location for training puts too great a cost burden on the supported agency and results in the preponderance of training being provided to local area students only, rather than a supported region. Within Traditional Training, two valuable courses were added: A new three-day Tactical Drug Operations course was piloted in Tallahassee, Fla., and is now being booked as a traditional course for any agency. Previously this course was held only in a limited number of locations due to unique training requirements. The new three-day version is more streamlined and can now be conducted anywhere in the country.
Also, a new Hidden Compartment Class entitled “SCoRE” for Secret Compartment Recognition Education was developed and will be offered in FY10 consisting of a variety of trucks and car sized vehicles under various conditions.
Drug Demand Reduction
Several years ago MCTFT developed a new DDR curriculum aimed at educating Florida’s youth to resist the pressure from peers to try drugs. The program, called “Mount Everest Challenge,” incorporates a classroom session and video, followed by a chance to climb a 20-foot rock wall. The program has been very successful over the years, and is in high demand by educational groups across Florida. During FY09, 3,976 school-aged students were trained via this method.
Distance Learning Broadcast
MCTFT’s satellite broadcasts have produced award-winning videos and television news style counterdrug broadcasts which are beamed to thousands of downlink sites in all 50 states. MCTFT uses a state-of-the-art television studio located at the Allstate Center campus of St. Petersburg College to produce live and taped broadcasts. In Fiscal Year 2009, 15 Distance Learning Broadcasts with 330,997 students were conducted, with the most watched live broadcast being “Countering the Drug Culture” which had 1,340 registered downlink sites and 50,488 students. Also, 1,865 viewers watched the MCTFT video productions via the Internet.
The MCTFT online “e-Drug” training courses are open-entry/open exit, student centered, interactive, and stand alone making them available 24/7. The content was derived from the traditional courses and provides an overview to the curriculum and outlines safety issues for law enforcement officers. The infrastructure for the course delivery involves a secure application process, online registration, a certificate for students upon successful completion of testing, and a help desk for technology issues. During FY09, 16,073 students were trained in the 17 courses currently offered online. They are:
• Airport Narcotics Investigations
• Introduction to Clandestine Laboratory Investigations
• Clandestine Laboratory Recertification
• Command and Control Overview
• Introduction to Conspiracy Investigations
• Criminal Street Gangs Overview
• Criminal Street Gangs Overview – Spanish
• Drug Identification
• Ethical Issues and Decisions in Law Enforcement
• Explosives, Booby Traps and Bomb Threat Management
• Introduction to Highway and Rural Drug Investigations
• Introduction to Interview and Interrogation
• Introduction to Patrol Drug Investigations
• Overdose America
• Police Intelligence
• Risk Management and Violence in Undercover Operations
• Surveillance Operations Overview
The MCTFT program provides CD-ROM interactive courses exclusively to law enforcement and military personnel. The courses were developed in conjunction with the United States Army Military Police School and provide the student with the capability of requesting a certificate upon completion of training. During FY09, at least 776 students were trained via this training method, it should be noted that it is impossible to know whether the CDs are shared after one student completes the course.
Narcotics Officers Associations
The MCTFT Program provides a highly successful training option in its conduct of “Conference Topics” which consist of four-hour blocks of instruction specially designed for teaching at counterdrug related conferences. Since its inception, the program has been working closely with nearly every Narcotics Officer Association across the country, and during FY 2009 we supported 78 conference topics and trained 10,506 law enforcement officers via this training delivery method.