One of Kokomo’s finest placed second in the nation in a prestigious competition designed to test the skill sets of the most elite among law enforcement and military service members.
Kokomo Police Department’s Lt. Zach Rodman placed second overall at the Tactical Games National Championship earlier this month. Rodman competed against a diverse set of some of the most highly-trained individuals in the country, including former military special operators, SWAT officers, and U.S. marshals. The games were held in Immokalee, Fla., in a decommissioned maximum security prison.
The games, which were broken up into different stages, or “battles,” tested Rodman’s mental and physical prowess, as well as his decision-making skills and shooting proficiency. Rodman participated in the elite division of the games. Competitors in the elite division are recommended to have a below eight-minute mile, the ability to shoulder a 200-pound sandbag, and more, according to the games’ website.
“The guy that won it was a U.S. marshal, and we were just about the same size. So it was fun to kind of go back and forth, and the conversations that we had helped because we kind of have similar jobs,” Rodman said. “I learned from him, and he learned from me. It was a really good thing. But probably the hardest thing for me was running a mile to the prison and back.”
Competitors had to run the mile in full gear, including their rifle, handgun, a 15-pound plate carrier, and extra magazines, to the decommissioned prison. Shooting targets along the way, Rodman had to go through a cell block to find heavy bags that simulated a person, “rescue” them, and bring the bags to a designated zone, simulating a search-and-rescue situation that competitors may find themselves in during their jobs.
The games simulated high-stress scenarios, Rodman said, both for the competitors and their gear. Rodman, who’s on KPD’s SWAT team, took gear used in real-life situations to the games to test it out in a controlled environment.
“So anybody can stand in front of a target and hit an ‘X’ target, shooting when it’s sunny out and 70, and your heart rate’s resting,” Rodman said. “But if it’s 86 and humid after you ran a mile, drug a 200-pound sled, and then be asked to take a precision shot at 200 yards, I mean, it really makes you think about a lot of things, about your fitness, how good your cardio is, if your heart rate can come down.”
Last February, Rodman qualified for the national competition after placing second in the earlier rounds. Rodman wasn’t a beginner when it came to advanced competition, as he is a former amateur strongman.
Most importantly, however, Rodman looks forward to bringing the lessons he learned and connections he made at the games back to Kokomo so his fellow KPD officers can learn and grow as well.
“Taking this stuff back to the guys and watching people get better at shooting because of things that people taught me while I was there, ultimately, it helps them and keeps them safer, but it helps Kokomo,” Rodman said. “I’m not trying to sound like Captain America here, but it’s the truth. In a world where we have to be good, we better be good at what we do. So the one time you have to help somebody, you need to show up the best version of yourself. I think this event definitely pushes people to do that. And it’s made our guys better. Our guys are already implementing some of the things that we’ve taken from these events, and it’s run by great people.”