- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 8, 2006

DALLAS — Texas will no longer require that state police recruits endure a dangerous and violent exercise during training sessions — a practice that resulted in the death of a 29-year-old last May.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced last week that on the advice of consultants, the drill known as “active countermeasures” would no longer be used.

The consultants told DPS the drill should be dropped because it caused too many head injuries and “did not involve realistic police scenarios.”

The drill had been a part of recruits’ training for more than 30 years. It was a full-contact fighting session in which opponents were often mismatched — occasionally women were paired with men or smaller recruits fought much larger opponents.

The drill was suspended in May after recruit Jimmy Ray Carty Jr. died after being repeatedly hit in the head.

An academy trainer had matched Mr. Carty with a recruit who had dominated Mr. Carty in previous wrestling drills. According to investigative reports, two supervisors asked Lt. Erwin Ballarta to match Mr. Carty’s opponent with a stronger opponent, but the trainer refused.

Within minutes, Mr. Carty had been knocked down twice by blows to the head, then a punch behind the ear rendered him unconscious. Mr. Carty died a week later.

DPS officials had clung to the drill since the 1970s, claiming that its men and women often patrolled alone and needed to know how to subdue a suspect one-on-one.

Department records show that since 1978, 121 recruits have suffered concussions. That year, a female trainee suffered a near-fatal brain injury from the drill, and in 1988, a male recruit nearly died as a result of the questionable exercise.

Mr. Carty’s widow, Christy, received a letter from DPS on Tuesday informing her of the decision to drop the drill.

“It was a big relief,” Mrs. Carty said. “We were just ecstatic to get it. They made the right choice.”

In the letter, DPS Director Thomas A. Davis Jr. said the state police academy trainers also would halt other hard physical contact between trainees.

“Students should never engage in physical contact with other students during simulations, with the exception of defensive-tactics training, where students are not using strikes or hard physical contact,” Mr. Davis added in his letter.

Mrs. Carty had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the state agency, charging that DPS leaders knew about the history of injuries and approved the sessions anyway.

DPS officials refused to comment on the lawsuit.

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