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Security personnel trained on standard field sobriety tests

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Master Sgt. Eric Farmer drank rum and whiskey while at work on the afternoon of Sept. 23 - on purpose. He was assisting the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Security Forces Squadron with training.

The training required test subjects, like Farmer, to have blood alcohol levels higher than Wyoming's legal limit of 0.08. The security personnel were learning how to administer the Standardized Field Sobriety Test.

Master Sgt. Greg Wardle, 153rd Security Forces Squadron training manager, said he felt the training was important to the unit.

"I hoped the training would give our members another tool that they can use to help keep our members and base safe. In addition, our members that want to move on to a civilian career in law enforcement will have this training already completed."

Five law enforcement officers from around Wyoming who are certified drug recognition experts led the training for nine of the squadron personnel. "This is part of the standard curriculum every cop learns as a new officer," said Jerry Glasscock, a detective with the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office, who was one of the instructors.
The training included classroom work and a wet lab - which is where Farmer, a member of the 153rd Communication Flight, and three other Wyoming Air National Guard airmen stepped in to assist.

Glasscock explained the wet lab allows students to practice performing the field sobriety tests - a one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus - in a controlled environment.

"We observe and critique the class members' techniques," Glasscock said. "It's not right or wrong; it's so they can become comfortable finding drivers at 0.05 and above. Would they arrest based on these tests?"

Staff Sgt. Chance Walkama, the squadron's non-commissioned officer in charge of investigations, said he scheduled the course specifically to get those questions answered.

"Members participating in the class were trained to recognize behavior that points toward impaired driving as well as the importance of the SFST battery and how to properly administer each test, when to detain an individual for driving under the influence, accurate report writing, and how to give clear and convincing courtroom testimony."

To assist in that training, Farmer and the three other volunteers were provided the alcohol of their choice in prescribed amounts to raise their blood alcohol level between 0.08 and 0.12.

At the end of the wet lab Farmer said his blood alcohol level was at 0.11; he drank two red plastic cups of mixed drinks - 6 ounces of alcohol in each. "My estimate was 0.075; that I would be under (the legal limit); this put things into perspective and sheds light on the situation; even though you think you're OK, you're not."