Originally published May 24, 2019 at 01:39p.m.

Updated May 25, 2019 at 01:14a.m.

Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy (NARTA) Class 46 has the honor of being the first class to train in, and graduate from, the newly constructed facility at Yavapai College Prescott campus.

This year’s class has 22 recruits from eight agencies.

The academy, previously located at the Yavapai College Prescott Valley Center, hosted an open house for the community Tuesday, May 21, guiding people through its two buildings with classrooms and offices, an outdoor Peace Officers Physical Aptitude Test obstacle course, a large room for defensive tactics training, and a 360-degree use-of-force simulator.


In a demonstration of the 360-degree use-of-force video simulator, an officer draws his gun on a suspect, during NARTA's Open House at Yavapai College May 21. (Sue Tone/Prescott News Network)

The simulator is one of six in the state and is shared with all of Yavapai County’s law enforcement agencies.

“Forty minutes here is better than five days on the range,” said Prescott Valley Police (PVPD) Officer Tyler Ellsworth, who demonstrated how the simulator provides real-life scenarios in an almost 360-degree setting.

Up to four officers can engage in a situation at a time. At the demonstration, one officer “responded” to a call of a disturbance in which the caller wanted a person removed from the property.

As the officer crossed the lawn, people in the doorway pointed out a woman in a car parked in the driveway. She shot at them, and the officer pulled his gun, ordered her to throw the gun out the window, then had her step out of the car and kneel on the grass.

Suddenly, the officer shot twice. Why did he do that? Ellsworth asked in the follow-up discussion. The officer said the woman had lunged for the gun and pointed it at him.


Two recruits in Class 46 Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy travel in pairs, or "battle buddies," to the Academy training building Tuesday, May 21, during its community Open House on the Yavapai College Prescott Campus. Class 46 is the first class to train and graduate from the new facility. (Sue Tone/Prescott News Network)

“In my 17-1/2 years with PVPD, my heart still beats faster when I get in here,” Ellsworth said. “These are real-life scenarios that actually happened.”

More than 500 situations are available, which expands to a couple thousand when other options and outcomes are programmed in. All recruits are required to go through at least three “discretionary shoots,” but most want more of the experience and preparation the simulator offers.

Andrew Lang of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) said his scenario involved a call about shots fired inside a building.

“The first time, you are hyper-focused. I didn’t check behind me, and there was a threat,” he said. In a setting where an officer is shot, he or she will get “zapped.”

“I had a lot of adrenaline, and felt almost weak-kneed when I realized I made a mistake,” Lang said, adding that the memory will stand out.

Nathaniel Namanny of the Prescott Police Department said his mistake in the simulator, likewise, will impact him years into the future. He responded to an active-shooter-in-a-building scenario and also forgot to beware of his surroundings. A shooter came from the right and he, too, was “shot.”


Anthony Cordes, Flagstaff Police Department, hops over a 6-ft. chain link fence during the NARTA Open House at Yavapai College May 21. (Sue Tone/Prescott News Network)

“I was so disheartened,” he said.

In the defensive training room, YCSO Deputy Steve Berry ran pairs of recruits through several techniques demonstrating a wrist lock, standing pin, straight takedown, scoop and escort hold. “Where the head goes, the body goes,” he reminded them.

Outside, Sierra Padilla and Anthony Cordes, both with Flagstaff Police Department, demonstrated how to scale solid wood and chain link fences. Considering Padilla is 4-foot-11, scrambling over a 6-foot fence is no small feat.

NARTA’s partnership with Yavapai College in 1996 has generated more than 1,200 graduates from 50 agencies, said NARTA’s acting commander, Lt. Corey Kasun. It offers two 20-week law enforcement training programs each year, and is considered a model program nationwide.

Graduates are awarded Full-Authority Peace Officer certification and a Law Enforcement and Corrections Certificate with 24 hours of college credit in Yavapai College’s Administration of Justice degree program.

The Class 46 graduation ceremony was held Thursday, May 23, in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.