PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Hunting down the most wanted fugitives in the country is in inherently dangerous job. Often, U.S. Marshals find themselves knocking on doors, entering homes, looking for criminals that may be hiding, desperate to elude arrest.
Deputy U.S. Marshals here in Phoenix have a unique training ground for those particular scenarios.
Marshals serve warrants on some of the most violent offenders in the country. Preparing for the unknown is crucial. This shoot house gives deputy marshals a true-to-life training ground, designed to help them hone building entry and room clearing techniques.
"They're very realistic. We're going into houses every day," said Deputy Marshal Amelia Swenhaugen.
"We do quite a few building entries to arrest people, so this training is crucial to what we do and the situation we have where an individual may be harmed or not be harmed is what we come across every day," said Supervisory Deputy Marshal Ernie Grizzle.
During this training, they're also armed with real weapons, which shoot rounds similar to paint balls.
"It's as close as you're going to get. These are Glock 9mm.. they only fire the simulation rounds. The recoil is similar to that when you fire your weapon," explained Grizzle. "To be hit by one of these is a little more painful to be hit by a paintball and just that increases the stress level on the officers and deputies."
During the sessions, they run through several scenarios. Normally, a team of about half a dozen deputy marshals and task force members map out their plan of attack before they even knock on the door.
"We do quite a few building entries to arrest people, so this training is crucial to what we do and the situation we have where an individual may be armed or not be armed is what we come across every day," said Grizzle.
There are a lot of unknown variables they encounter when entering a home. Will the people in the home be cooperative or combative? Is the fugitive even there? Where would the person by hiding?
Although they train for the worst case scenario, the goal is to avoid having to use any force to make the arrest without anyone getting hurt.
"It's all relevant. It's all important.. something we take into consideration when we're going into a house, into an unknown, which is basically what every house is," said Swenhaugen.