OXNARD : Coast Guard Works on Policing Drills

S. Coast Guard members were in the midst of a five-day training session Wednesday at Channel Islands Harbor, learning to brush up on the law enforcement aspect of their jobs.

Officers shouted "Down!" as they whacked pads with steel batons during an exercise to practice arrest and self-defense techniques.

Coast Guard personnel must learn how to control aggressive people on the ocean with skills ranging from the use of gentle verbal commands to the use of side arms, said the training officer, Chief Gunner's Mate First Class Charles Murray.

The quarterly drills refresh the officers' skills at handling belligerent boaters, who can range from drunken sailors to drug-runners, said Chief Warrant Officer Bill Weber, commander of the Oxnard Coast Guard station.

"We stress a minimal amount of force," said Murray, who travels about 27 weeks a year to Coast Guard stations along the West Coast and in Hawaii to teach use of force to seasoned officers and those fresh out of boot camp.

However, law enforcement techniques are an increasing part of the job, Weber said.

"We went from a service of a bunch of folks who were lifesavers to . . . law enforcement since I was a young recruit," Weber said.

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