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Mock Prison Riot Lauded For Training Innovations

October 23, 2013
By FRED CONNORS - Senior Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

The Mock Prison Riot, held each spring at the former West Virginia Penitentiary, has received the Innovative Approaches Award for 2013 from the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel.

The event is a four-day law enforcement and corrections trade show and training event comprised of a technology showcase and demonstrations, tactical training scenarios, workshops and a skills competition. Participants come from across the world to participate in the program, coordinated by the West Virginia Division of Corrections and the West Virginia Corrections Training Foundation.

The IACTP's Awards of Excellence Program strives to identify and celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding individuals and programs in the field of criminal justice training. The award is given for training which is considered state-of-the-art.

Article Photos

File photo by Sarah Harmon
Law enforcement from across the country make the trip to Moundsville each May for the annual Mock Prison Riot.

"Upon review, the committee also learned that the Mock Prison Riot is 100 percent on target for achieving its goals and fulfilling its mission statement," Pete Norris, IACTP president-elect commented. "The Mock Prison Riot works, and it works well. It is very unique and effective training."

According to statistics compiled by Mock Prison Riot officials, the event has pumped millions of dollars into the Northern Panhandle economy since it started in 1997. The project has maintained statistics regarding its impact on the community since the Mock Prison Riot's inception.

According to those statisics, bringing 800 to 1,700 law enforcement, corrections and public safety practitioners and technologists to the area for a week has a powerful, direct impact on sales at hotels and restaurants in Wheeling, Moundsville and surrounding communities.

A multiplier effect occurs when visitors at an event such as the Mock Prison Riot spend dollars in the community.

The impact statement suggests local businesses and individuals receiving these dollars in turn spend some of the money locally, which in turn are re-spent, and on and on in successive, diminished cycles of spending. As dollars circulate, the money filters out to grocery stores, restaurants, nightclubs, gas stations, gift shops, recreation areas and other local businesses.

The multiplier effect on each dollar can range from 1.8 to 5, based on a number of variables, but the current commonly accepted standard is about 2.5. At average room rates of $94 to $150 per night plus at least $46 per day for food and drink, the average riot attendee is spending a minimum of $140 for every day of the event.

The first event had 70 attendees while 10 times that many arrived the following year, and that number doubled by 1999. Since then, attendance has ranged from 1,200 to 1,700 participants and the event now encompasses four days, statistics show.

The Mock Prison Riot is a comprehensive law enforcement and corrections tactical and technology experience, including 44,000 square feet of exhibit space. It is the only venue of its kind where law enforcement and corrections practitioners can touch, see and actually deploy technologies from the showcase in real-world training scenarios, utilizing the grounds of the decommissioned prison to maximum advantage.

"We ask applicants several questions regarding their programs and contributions to the field of corrections training," said IACTP President-elect Pete Norris, who also serves as the director of training for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. "One very important question involves applicants describing how their programs or contributions represent a creative departure from standard or previous practice. The Mock Prison Riot stood out for several reasons. The use of an actual penitentiary for training combined with role players and emerging and existing technology integration are characteristics that definitely set it apart from other applicants."

The IACTP is an international professional association of trainers, training administrators, and educators representing all aspects of the field of adult and juvenile justice. Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, IACTP was established in 1974 to enhance public safety and the fair and humane treatment of offenders by promoting organizational and individual excellence in training.

The IACTP's Awards of Excellence Program strives to identify and celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding individuals and programs in the field of criminal justice training. The Innovative Approaches award is given for training which is considered state-of- the-art.

"Upon review, the committee also learned that the Mock Prison Riot is 100 percent on target for achieving its goals and fulfilling its mission statement," Norris said. "The Mock Prison Riot works, and it works well. It is very unique and effective training."

Realistic training is difficult to come by, especially in the corrections industry, said Terry Rusin, a member of the West Virginia Corrections Training Foundation's board of directors. The realism of the Mock Prison Riot venue and scenario-based training fill that void.

"We are always striving to make each event better and more relevant than the last,"Rusin said. "The unique circumstances of our venue and the relationships we have and continue to build throughout the world allow us to offer innovative hands-on training that is extremely difficult to find elsewhere. It is our privilege to continue offering these training and technology opportunities to our attendees."

For more information, call Sharon Goudy at 304-231-4929 or Karen Stakem at 304-218-8354.

 
 

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