FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Being on patrol is the essence of a Military Police Soldier while in garrison. While working the roads, MPs have to be ready when a call comes in - anything can happen during their shift.
Soldiers from Company E, 795th Military Police Battalion got a taste of what can happen on the road during law and order training, Friday.
Working the road would not be what it is without the most realistic experience and training possible, and Soldiers recently started training in shifts to gain that.
"It was changed about three months ago, where the Soldiers used to work from 8 a.m. to whenever they were done, about 1500 (3 p.m.)," said Staff Sgt. Raymond Smith, Co. E, 795th MP Bn., drill sergeant. "Now they work two swifts, from 0800 to 1500 and then a swing shift from 1500 to 2300 (11 p.m.)."
Smith said the Soldiers come in a platoon at a time to work the shifts, while the others who are not working role play for situations, such as DUIs, sexual assaults, domestic disturbance - all things the Soldiers could encounter on patrol.
"They are still doing the same work as they were doing before; traffic control points, domestic disturbances and such, but we are trying to get a real workday out of them," Smith said.
Smith said at first, in a world of schedules and uniformity, it was hard to work out the logistics, but everyone quickly worked out the schedule to make sure the Soldiers get the best training possible.
"This is more realistic and better for them. This just goes to show them how it will really be. We still keep them on their schedule, like eating three times a day and doing PT (physical training)," Smith said. "A lot of them joined the Army because they want to do cop work, and this is just a first taste of what that really is."
Going on patrol for the first time and working a shift feels like a big accomplishment for some of the Soldiers after weeks of training.
"I actually felt like an MP a little bit. When we were in the student patrol cars, people even slowed down a little, until they saw the student stickers on the side," said Pfc. Ryan Kirkpatrick, Co. E, 795th MP Bn.
Kirkpatrick said he knows becoming an MP comes with great responsibility and working his first shift in training showed him a lot.
"We just did this for eight hours and the 15 minutes that we spent at each scenario was rough; it wasn't even real and really strenuous," Kirkpatrick said. "This job is really dangerous, and today it made you really see that for the first time this is real. There is a lot to it; I may not understand all of it, but it was a good exercise for us all."
Pfc. Ryan Acosta, Co. E, 795th MP Bn., said by working shifts and encountering realistic situations while training - it makes for a better prepared Soldier.
"However you train is how you are going to perform out there (on the road.) If you make any mistakes, it is going to effect you out there when you go out and do the real thing," Acosta said. "I really like how they try to make it as realistic as possible. It does make it harder ... but now we will know what to do later on."
Acosta said he was nervous about being on the road for the first time, but used confidence to make his shift a success. He said working shifts helps prepare Soldiers for what they are going to encounter during their careers as MPs while working in a garrison environment.
"A lot of people really don't know what they are getting themselves into. In class you can only learn so much, but when you are out there you can learn so much and really get a lot of hands on expereience. It makes a huge difference," Acosta said.