March 16, 2017
Story and photos by Micah Oelze
Law enforcement professionals realize the nature of their work can put them in dangerous situations where hand-to-hand defensive tactics are required. The criminal justice program at Barton Community College has acquired two padded training suits, known as RedMan suits, to allow students to experience such situations first-hand safely.
“It’s got a lot of padding but you are still able to feel where you are getting hit at,” Criminal Justice Student Seth Gruber said. “It’s good for students so we can gain the knowledge that comes with the full experience.”
The Barton Foundation funded the Barton Criminal Justice Department’s request for the RedMan training suits through the Lee Turner Endowment.
Barton’s Criminal Justice Instructor and Coordinator Melissa Stevens said the suit has been invaluable to the students.
“We use the RedMan suit for our police defensive tactics class and we are hoping to use it for law enforcement procedures as well,” she said. “They love it.”
Having worn the suit many times, Gruber describes it as hot but certainly worth the discomfort.
There are two types of RedMan suits: instructor and student. The instructor suit contains a helmet and a series of pads to completely cover the instructor, who takes the most hits in the scenarios. The student suit consists of a helmet and fewer pads, giving the individual more freedom to move and complete defensive strikes and maneuvers.
Students, along with Stevens, are excited to have the suit and are loving the advantages it brings to their learning experience at Barton.
“Before we had the RedMan suits, we just had to use simulations without full body contact,” Stevens said. “Being able to use full body contact shows students how the movements work, what resistance is going to be like, how to do a follow-up strike, how to control their emotions under pressure and more.”
Stevens said the suits are a must for every criminal justice department.
“We were teaching the class without it but having the suit makes the experience a thousand times more valuable and enjoyable,” she said.
Morgan Olliff, freshman in Criminal Justice, described her experience with the RedMan suits as essential to learning her strengths and weaknesses.
“The experience has helped me understand my own limits with what I can and cannot do in certain situations,” Olliff said. “If I couldn’t have full-on physical contact with the RedMan suit for training, I feel I wouldn’t understand my full potential.”
Chase Newacheck, a Barton student who had taken defensive tactics prior to the college acquiring the suit, sees this as a great opportunity for the department and wishes they had the suit when he took the class.
“Before having the RedMan suits we couldn’t go full force and instead had to practice with slow simulations,” he said. “Having the RedMan suit helps to teach and prepare them more than the alternative.”
Stevens said the criminal justice department at Barton is grateful to the Barton Foundation and the Turner family for helping make this a reality for the department.
Originally, the Lee Turner Endowment was created to support law enforcement with one-day seminars for half a college credit. In 2014, the Kansas Board of Regents discontinued the acceptance of the half college credit earned from the seminar, requiring a two-day seminar. This was not supported by local law enforcement agencies due to their work schedules.
“Since that time the Foundation office has worked with the Turner family to find initiatives or needs within the criminal justice program that would continue to fulfill the wishes and initial intent of the donor. Since this seemed a perfect fit with the intent of Mr. Turner, the suit was purchased from those funds,” said Coleen Cape, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. “The foundation is extremely grateful to the Turner family for their continued interest in the Criminal Justice program and we are currently engaged in dialogue on creating new criteria for the interest earned from this endowment, so the fund will continue to assist in the training of our criminal justice students in the future.”