BOISE, Idaho — Top Gun is not just a summer blockbuster. It is also a new training course for law enforcement and prosecutors across Idaho.
The program is an intensive undercover training course for narcotics enforcement and is hosted by the Idaho State Police (ISP) and Idaho National Guard.
Nearly 40 personnel attended the program, which is intended to prepare them for the front lines of the drug epidemic.
"We hope to have an impact on the drug crisis that's facing Idaho by having well-trained professional investigators back on the street everywhere in the state of Idaho," John Kempf, Idaho State Police Captain said.
Fentanyl killed about 350 Idahoans last year, according to authorities. Police have been seeing an increase in violence with drug deals as well.
ISP created their own version of Top Gun after studying programs from other states. The course includes things like raid training, which teaches law enforcement how to safely enter drug encounters.
Top Gun's goal is to teach law enforcement how to investigate drug crimes, and ensure ethical and safe investigations are conducted across the state.
"We are sending officers back to these areas, better trained in narcotics investigations. Better than they ever have been," Kempf said.
The program is a week long. Kempf says the condensed format allows them to provide free training to agencies that may not be able to afford high-quality training.
The course is not just for Idaho's law enforcement. Other participants have come from agencies in Montana and Oregon.
Earlier this year, Governor Brad Little created "Operation Esto Perpetua." A strategy to protect communities from drug threats.
"Idaho is obviously a place where the Mexican cartels are looking to get as much fentanyl in a possible and make as much money off the misery of Idahoans," Luke Malek, Chairman of the Esto Perpetua Committee said. "So there's a lot of danger that's affiliated with that drug as it flows into Idaho. These are the people who are putting themselves into danger's way every single day. So the more training they have, the more they're aware of the tactics that are likely going to be used against them out in the field."
"That war against fentanyl is obviously crucial to our quality of life here in Idaho," Malek said. "And the work that these folks are doing are crucial to the work that the governor's taskforce of fentanyl is doing."
Prosecutors also participated in the course. They completed training alongside law enforcement, and were also there to provide legal advice for officers.
"It's a partnership, very much so," Andrew Haws, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Canyon County Attorney's Office said. "Obviously these guys are boots on the ground, but when it comes to understanding court decisions or procedures, we're there. We work hand-in-hand trying to address this. Hats-off to ISP for putting this on and for all the law enforcement partners for joining and going through this training. It's a joint operation."
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