FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Sept. 23, 2022) -- Military and civilian police professionals put their skills to the test Sept. 22 during the 2022 Law Enforcement “Top Cop” competition at Fort Drum.
The event started at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield where participants navigated a timed Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) before they headed to Range 33 for a series of physical challenges followed immediately with a stress shoot, and culminating with an accuracy shoot.
“The EVOC is basically a course that everyone completes during initial training as a police officer, whether your military or civilian,” said Capt. Eric Napier, 227th Military Police Detachment commander. “It basically shows you how to maneuver a vehicle during emergency calls.”
After that, the physical fitness challenge required individuals to complete four tasks: a 90-pound sled drag, a kettle bell carry, a dummy drag or carry, and then a sprint.
Napier said that going directly from a sprint to the stress shoot required competitors to fire their weapons with an elevated heart rate, and maybe even a little out of breath.
“It’s not your typical marksmanship range,” he said. “Your heart rate is up, your blood pressure is elevated, and then we call out different targets that you have to hit for points. The last target is a walk-and-shoot.”
The 227th Military Police Detachment hosted the annual event, which included participants from New York State Police, City of Rome Police Department, the 563rd MP Company and 23rd MP Company.
More than just a training event, “Top Cop” is designed to promote esprit de corps among colleagues in the law enforcement community.
“Top Cop is an event the 227th hosts every year to strengthen relationships with our civilian partner agencies surrounding the Fort Drum area,” Napier said. “It allows us an opportunity to build cohesion through competition.”
Pvt. Rahshan Paige, with the 23rd MP Company, said his reason for competing was to assess his physical and professional skills.
“I just love challenges and being able to push myself,” he said. “It was a really good test, and it’s always good to take any opportunities to improve. I think I did well overall.”
Dan Vescio, with the City of Rome Police Department, recorded the best individual performance at the competition to win the title of “Top Cop” for the second year in a row. Spc. Gabriel Brown, with the 563rd MP Company, placed highest among the military police.
“This was the first time I’ve competed here, and I thought it was really nice to see the different MP companies coming together with the New York State Police and Rome Police Department,” Brown said. “It was educating, and it gives me something to look forward to if I ever decide to pursue a career in a civilian police department.”
Fellow competitors took note as Brown flew through the physical challenge, finishing only slightly behind the fastest recorded time.
“I was trying, I mean, really trying to win that event,” Brown said. “I was just a few seconds off, I guess. Next year, I’ll come back and get it.”
Lt. Col. Anthony Howell, 91st Military Police Battalion commander, participated again this year alongside his Soldiers.
“I thought going from the physical activity straight through to the stress shoot was a good idea because it’s not just a test of your accuracy but it also tests how you can function under that stress and physical exertion,” he said. “Overall, I thought this was a really great event.”
Howell also said that he appreciates the camaraderie that occurs when different law enforcement agencies come together for friendly competition.
“We’re watching each other compete, but we’re doing a lot of talking too – finding out how they typically operate, compared to the Army way, and seeing how their police force is doing,” he said. “For a lot of our MP Soldiers, they may be looking at civilian police as future employment. So this gives them a chance to ask some of the questions they may have.”
Even though his Soldiers couldn’t claim Top Cop honors this year, Howell said there is a lot of pride in the 91st MP Battalion for the two Soldiers who excelled at the 2022 MP Competitive Challenge at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, earlier this month.
Staff Sgt. Adam Walter and Spc. Mikel Dillon won the overall team category during the three-day competition that included a physical fitness assessment, weapons qualifications, an 18-mile foot march and written exams.
“Everybody in the Army basically sends a team to compete, so it’s a pretty big deal,” Howell said. “Our team came out victorious, and we couldn’t be prouder. With our battalion having a high operational tempo, for them to be able to get ready quickly, mesh as a team and perform the way they did is absolutely fantastic.”