Police Officers Trained To Conduct Vehicle Searches

Police officers from several departments searched vehicles for drugs, guns and other criminal paraphernalia Tuesday at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.

The search was part of a training program hosted by the Wheeling Police Department and conducted through a federal grant by the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center from Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.

Cpl. Neil Fowkes, highway safety coordinator for the Wheeling Police Department, said 37 officers from 10 departments participated.

They represented the Wheeling Police Department, Ohio, Marshall and Tyler county sheriff’s departments, West Virginia State Police and departments in Glen Dale, Morgantown, Scott Township, Pa., New Castle, Pa., and Annearundel, Md.

“This is a three-day interdiction training for passenger vehicle searches,” he said.

The officers are subjected to real life scenarios.

“They learn to think outside of the box and become comfortable with vehicle searches that may produce items from hidden compartments and man-made traps, he said”

Fowkes said the 10 different makes and models of vehicles used in the training have 150 hiding spots familiar to criminals.

Typical examples are inside airbag compartments and under spare tires mounted under the cars, he said.

According to Fowkes, the training consists of classroom instruction and hands-one searches where teams rotate through five real car stations and are given 30 minutes at each station to search for and find contraband.

He said response from the officers is very positive.

“Every one of them express gratitude for the amount of intense training they receive,” he said.