MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- Masked Marshalltown police officers, decked out in SWAT gear and carrying realistic looking guns, conducted training last Friday at the Iowa Veterans Home where quite a few residents suffer with post traumatic stress disorder.
"You get somebody with pistols out there violently trying to break into a building, even if it's an empty building, and if they see it and they've been in Fallujah or some of the other places where there has been that kind of combat, you're gonna have problems," says Bob Krause with the Veterans National Recovery Center.
The training was conducted at an auditorium and cottages where family members can stay. Commandant Jodi Tymeson says it's not uncommon for police and firefighters to train on the grounds of the Iowa Veterans Home. She says, staff who need to know are given ample warning, but warning everyone is difficult. "We are a large campus with a lot of staff and a large number of residents so we do our best to notify everyone."
But Krause insists residents and staff were not warned. "When the people that eye witnessed it saw it and asked their supervisor, their supervisor's didn't know. They checked around, they called the telephone operator for the institution, the telephone operator didn't know. And about 15 minutes after they reported it there was an intercom flash that there was team practice on campus," Krause says
The training was conducted directly across the street from the Dack Care Facility where patients are treated. Commandant Tymeson says she has never had any complaints about the training in the past, but this case might affect training in the future. "Now that I know there are some concerns about this training I certainly will take that into consideration if we decide if we are going to approve any training in the future," she says.
The Iowa Veterans Home did give Marshalltown police permission to train on the property. Krause says he believes there has been so much turn over at the Iowa Veterans Home that information is not being properly communicated to staff.