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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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