Mock Riot Wraps Up Its 18th Year

MOUNDSVILLE – As the 18th Annual Mock Prison Riot wrapped up Wednesday at the former West Virginia Penitentiary, officials said it was yet another successful year for the event.

Corrections teams spent the day participating in various training scenarios, which ranged from controlling prisoner riots in enclosed spaces in the prison to field scenarios of small disturbances in the prison’s north yard. Participants also were able to test out new corrections technology in several product demonstrations held around the prison, peruse the exhibition hall for new equipment and attend workshops.

Sgt. Joel Ashe of the Orange County Corrections Department in Florida said his team has participated in the riot for the past nine years. He said the event is the only one he knows of with training scenarios geared toward corrections officers, and the skills competition and the ability to test out new technologies are a big draw for his teams.

“The technology out there that we see every year, they let us use it,” Ashe said. “They let us use it in a scenario. So it’s fun to come up here and see this stuff and go ‘Hey, can I use this?’ That’s a very big draw for us.”

Ashe said he is happy officers are able to use the entire grounds of the prison to try out new equipment and train for different scenarios. He said he is also impressed officers can be trained and certified for new equipment at the event classes for free and bring those skills back to their departments at home.

“You can sit in a classroom and show a video, but to actually come up here and be hands-on, that’s the training you get here,” Ashe said. “When you come up here and see other teams and other tactics, you learn from each other.”

Maj. Ronnie Williams, West Virginia Division of Corrections chief of special operations, said attendance at the event is up from last year from about 780 last year to 1,100 participants at this year’s event, with teams from 32 states and 13 countries.

“Everything went great,” Williams said. “It’s grown every year, so we’re happy about that. It’s been really active, so it’s been a great show so far.”

Williams said the riot has added some new technology this year including a drone demonstration from DroneShield LLC and new ammunition and protective equipment used in several scenarios.

The riot had a skills competitions earlier this week on the event’s obstacle course, in which the Michigan Division of Corrections team won first place overall for the second year in a row.

Williams said the event organizers are looking forward to next year’s riot, set for May 3-6, and hope the event continues to grow in participation from both corrections teams and technology vendors.