Students put headlines into practice with mock Trump rally security detail


Western Dakota Tech students got a taste of the security detail life today during a mock ‘Donald Trump Rally’ on campus.

Criminal Justice students in Jonni Joyce’s Contemporary Security Practices class were tasked with ensuring ‘Mr. Trump’s’ safety from the moment he stepped on campus to the moment he left. This practice is referred to as Executive Protection Detail or Dignitary Detail.

“They’re learning the mechanics of dignitary detail,” Joyce said. “More importantly, they’re learning the importance of multi-department cooperation.”

The students have been preparing details of the mock visit from aerial photos that were compiled into table top maps by computer-aided drafting students. Students considered a wide variety of issues while developing the plan, including best routes to deliver ‘Mr. Trump’ to and from the speech room, security clearance and safety for all on-campus visitors, location for press personnel, and plans of action for dealing with potential threats.

“There is nothing greater than this exercise to create the level of understanding for students between paper and practice,” said Joyce.

Joyce says the current political landscape has provided real-time learning opportunities for students in the Contemporary Security Practices class.

“Trump is providing us so much information for this class,” said Joyce. “We can come into class Monday and discuss what happened during the motorcade or during the speech at one of his events.”

Steve Buchholz, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Advancement, played the role of Donald Trump. ‘Trump’s’ speech took take place at 11:10 in the Pennington County Community room in the Library. All persons in the vicinity between 10:30-11:30 a.m. were subject to screening.

Students participating in the event confiscated two knives during screenings and thwarted two would-be agitators.

“The students elected to have one undercover patrol in the room during the speech,” said Joyce. “That person was able to identify and stop two agitators and as a result the speech was uninterrupted. I’m very proud of how the students conducted themselves during this event.”

Joyce has experience n Special Operations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina. She has worked on dignitary details for a number of high-profile politicians including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, and Jimmy Carter. She also has experience working with bomb-detecting canine units.

Everyone involved in the security detail met for a debriefing after the event. Immediate debriefing allowed instructors to analyze and assess the effectiveness of the event to ensure targeted learning outcomes from the program were being met.

For more information on the Criminal Justice program, click here.

For information about Western Dakota Tech, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to

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A grisly murder at Western Dakota Tech was the perfect opportunity for Criminal Justice students to jump into the world of forensic science, but don’t be alarmed! The murder was, of course, a staged simulation.

Criminal Justice Instructor, Richard Bleil, used a fake body and planted evidence that gives clues to the murder of “Hanna,” a paper-stuffed mannequin. Students surveyed the scene and collected evidence to support their theories of what happened.

Hanna’s murder will be a semester-long project. Students will focus on various elements of the investigation process each week. Hands-on experience and discussion about the investigation will teach students the skills necessary to navigate a crime-scene as criminal justice professionals.

The Forensics course explores how specific technologies are used by professionals in the criminal justice system to apprehend offenders, secure convictions on the guilty, and exonerate the innocent. Students gain perspective on the every-changing forensic practices of the criminal justice system and the impact to society.

For more information about the Criminal Justice program, click here.

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SIM Rally surges forward despite weather


The cold and blustery weather didn’t stop the inaugural Western Dakota Tech SIM Rally that was held today in the southeast parking lot of the Rushmore Campus on Sedivy Lane.

The rally incorporated the following programs: Fire Science, Law Enforcement, Paramedic, and Medical. Students responded to a mass casualty scene in real-world time as first-responders.

The simulation featured a 2-car collision and bystander victims. The scene included a supposedly intoxicated driver, multiple mannequin deaths, an engine fire, and a Jaws of Life extraction. Law Enforcement were first on scene, followed by fire trucks and then ambulances.

“Simulation is invaluable for students to practice real-world skills in a safe environment,” Western Dakota Tech Simulation Center Director Lloyd McNett said. “The ability to review outcomes and assess performance maximizes the learning potential at each one of these events.”

Each program met after the event for debriefing. The debriefing included assessment of student performance and learning outcomes and discussion about how to improve future simulations.

While simulation is a core ability of Western Dakota Tech, this is the first simulation event that incorporated so many departments. Cross-departmental collaboration is essential in providing the best possible first response care to victims. The SIM Rally taught students the skills needed to work quickly and cohesively with first-responders from a variety of backgrounds.

Students in each program practiced classroom-specific skills while cooperating with the other departments. Fire Science students put out the engine fire and used the jaws of life to give Paramedic students access to a trapped victim. Law Enforcement students managed traffic and surveyed the scene while collecting evidence to assist prosecutors who would later charge the suspected drunk driver. Paramedic students navigated the many people on scene to triage victims and prioritize care.

All roles had post-event learning opportunities. Western Dakota Tech Nursing Director Sonja Love acted as a receiving ER nurse to record patient reports from the Paramedic students and give feedback. The report from the Law Enforcement program will be submitted to the States Attorney who will provide feedback and recommendations. The Rapid City Fire Department with critique student performance and make suggestions for improvement.

Real-world connections helped students apply skills from the simulation to situations they might face on the job.

Western Dakota Tech Fire Science Instructor, Tom Smith, says emulating real-world scenarios is a core strategy of simulation. In real-world first-response scenarios there are almost always multiple departments involved, and there’s certainly no control over the weather.

“Some people wanted to post postpone the event because of the weather today,” Smith said. “But how often are you able to postpone a car accident in the real world?”

The Rapid City Fire Department participated in the event with fire trucks, ambulances, and on-scene coaches. The Hill City Ambulance Service also provided an ambulance and driver.

For more information about Western Dakota Tech programs or the Western Dakota Tech Medical Simulation Center, visit

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