Steamboat Springs Monson Hall is living its final hours serving the purpose it was built for.
Instead of being filled with those matriculating at Colorado Mountain College, the building was occupied Thursday by law enforcement officers who were smashing windows and breaking down doors for the purpose of education.
“It’s what we do in real missions,” said Dave Kleiber, Steamboat special weapons and tactics commander. “We don’t get that opportunity very often.”
About 50 officers from agencies across Northwest Colorado attended the training. The training continues today and was organized by the Steamboat Springs Police Department using grant money. Monson Hall is scheduled for demolition to make room for a new 60,000-square-foot building at the college. The college gave SWAT team members the opportunity to cause some damage to the building, which Kleiber called “an ideal training environment.”
“They were extremely helpful and supportive,” he said.
Thursday’s training was loud, dusty and potentially dangerous as officers busted through windows and shot out the hinges on doors using live rounds.
“It’s therapeutic,” Kleiber said.
The officers were armed with shotguns, axes, rams, flash bang grenades, rocks and tools with names such as door bangers, hooligan tools and quickie saws.
They were learning breaching techniques used to enter a building or room as quickly as possible, Kleiber said. Today the team plans to work on more advanced breaching techniques. An active shooter and hostage situation also is being staged.
The SWAT training was taught by instructors from Paladin Training including Rusty, who said he was in the U.S. Army for 15 years serving in different special operations. He did not want to give his last name because of the nature of his work.
Rusty said Monson Hall provided an ideal training environment because the students did not have to worry about damaging anything. Not having such a facility readily available is one of the biggest obstacles for training SWAT team members.
“The first time you break a piece of glass shouldn’t be when you’re serving a high-threat warrant on a crackhead,” Rusty said.