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HereNow

A recent rash of police shootings of unarmed black men, and the shooting of a 12-year-old in Cleveland who was holding a BB gun, have raised questions about how police are trained to use their guns.

Today, Here & Now begins an occasional series looking at just that. We start with a look at simulators. A company called VirTra makes this equipment, including a $200,000 firearms training simulator being used by local and national law enforcement agencies.

Former police officer Scott DiIullo is VirTra’s director of content and firearms. He told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that their training systems are “based on preparing the officers to make these critical use-of-force decisions and we try to incorporate dynamic situations that they might run into on the street.”

“We have to let them train through and prepare in these high stress environments so they are better able to deal with it when they actually go through it.”

One of VirTra’s systems has a “threat fire device,” which DiIullo says gives officers physical feedback when training in these simulated situations.

“So if they’re in a situation and let’s say they’re ambushed or they didn’t use good tactics, they’re in a gun battle and they get hit, they are going to feel it. It’s going to cause some stress and some pain,” said DiIullo.

“It’s not used to correct them on a mistake,” DiIullo said. He noted that the point of this training is to monitor the officers reactions and test their stress in situations.

“When they get hit with this, it makes it a more stressful environment because what we found in our training — we put a lot of force science research behind our training — is that when you’re involved in these deadly force encounters on the street, stress keeps us alive and it helps us survives these incidents,” said DiIullo.

“There’s always a point with stress that you have these catastrophic effects that will affect officers’ decision making. We have to let them train through and prepare in these high stress environments so they are better able to deal with it when they actually go through it in a real life situation,” he said.

According to DiIullo, VirTra always checks in with departments that use their training systems and wants to ensure that officers are always prepared for real-life deadly force situations.

“We want to keep putting out that quality content and it comes back to preparing the officers that have to be involved in those situations and face to those situations to be better prepared and deal with them,” he said.

 

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Published: Monday, Oct. 13 2014 1:14 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Bursts of gunfire regularly erupt from Parleys Canyon at the sheriff’s shooting range. Police have trained there for years.

But for the past 11 months, officers have been able to elevate their training with an indoor, state-of-the-art simulator.

“It raises my heart rate. It amps the stress up a little bit,” said officer Brad Smith, a firearms instructor with the Unified Police Department.

Smith went through several scenarios in the 300-degree VirTra simulator. Unlike single-screen simulators he has trained on in the past, this wrap-around simulator forces the trainee to assess the threat and make a judgment about what amount of force is necessary, Smith said. The trainee must assess not only what is right in front of him, but also who may attack from any side.

Unified police officer Brad Smith goes through a scenario in the 300-degree VirTra simulator. The scenarios are intricate and variable. If the officer makes a good decision, the treat de-escalates. If they make a bad decision, the threat intensifies.

Unified police officer Brad Smith goes through a scenario in the 300-degree VirTra simulator. The scenarios are intricate and variable. If the officer makes a good decision, the treat de-escalates. If they make a bad decision, the threat intensifies.

“On this one, the scenario surrounds you,” he said. “You have to keep your head moving. You have to turn around and look to see what could be coming up behind you.”

Smith has worked in law enforcement 24 years and said this simulator is a game-changer for police training when it comes to use of deadly force. With police training in the spotlight in Utah and across the country, Smith believes this advanced training is more valuable than ever.

For new officers, Smith is confident this kind of training will have a lasting impact on the way they do their job on the streets. In turn, that training saves lives in the community.

“I believe it does,” he said. “It helps officers make the correct decision.”

The intensity and reality of the scenarios has a physiological effect on the trainee.

“I’ve seen officers, brand new officers, step in here and go through some of the same scenarios and walk out in a sweat,” Smith said.

The scenarios are intricate and variable. If the officer made good decisions, the threat de-escalates. If they make bad decisions, the threat intensifies.

In one domestic dispute scenario, a man is pointing a gun at the head of his wife or girlfriend and shouts at the officer as he enters the house. The trainee tries to convince him to drop the weapon and step away from the woman. In the end, the man in the scenario kills the woman and the officer after the trainee made decisions that escalated the danger.

The trainee later learns that there was a baby in the room of the scenario who had gone unnoticed because of the focus on the shouting and the gun.

“You don’t hear the baby if you’re not open to the movement, if you are not open to watching the whole scenario,” said range master Nick Roberts. “You don’t have training in that.”

But law enforcement officers in Salt Lake County are getting that training.

Any officer in the county can train there. The Unified Police Department makes sure each of its officers gets one day of training in the simulator, along with three days of live-fire training on other ranges.

A year ago, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office used $500,000 in asset forfeiture money, along with $250,000 from the county’s general fund, to buy the simulator.

 

Summary

Police have trained at gun ranges for years, but for the past 11 months they’ve been able to get additional training on an indoor, state-of-the-art simulator.

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865613019/Virtual-training-facility-helps-officers-make-split-second-decisions.html

By Eugene Curtin / Leader Associate Editor

They could, and occasionally do, rustle up a dozen or so volunteer actors, commandeer a school library, alert the public that this is a test – this is only a test – and then carry out a one-time enactment of a school hostage situation.

It’s a lot to organize, and Bellevue Police Department officers had better drink in the experience because the opportunity won’t come around often.

Or, they could walk down a flight of steps into the basement of the police department’s new Wall Street headquarters and step into the newly installed $350,000 VirTra incident simulator.

A $350,000 incident simulator in the basement of the Bellevue Police Department will allow officers to practice an unlimited range of crisis situations.

A $350,000 incident simulator in the basement of the Bellevue Police Department will allow officers to practice an unlimited range of crisis situations.

There, amidst the simulator’s five life-size panels, lawmen can step into a virtual school environment at any time, traverse virtual corridors in life-sized high-definition, with screaming, life-sized students rushing by, injured victims screaming in pain, and a terrified student being held hostage by a desperate criminal.

And they can do it as many times as they wish, as often as they like, until alertness and efficiency become instinct, and situational awareness in the face of chaos and terror becomes second nature.

“It’s the only one of its kind in the region,” said Bellevue Police Chief Mark Elbert. “The closest one like it is in Chicago.”

The VirTra’s outstanding feature, he said, is that its five screens create an almost 360-degree environment where the officer must be aware at all times of what’s happening around him or her. Lesser simulators provide one or two screens directly in front of the officer, Elbert said, which is useful, but does not recreate a real-world environment.

The VirTra is equipped with dozens of realistic scenarios that leap on to the screen at the press of a button.

 Bellevue Police Officer Joe Gray confronts a virtual gunman using a hostage as a human shield during a run through a shooter simulator at the Bellevue Police Station on Friday.

Bellevue Police Officer Joe Gray confronts a virtual gunman using a hostage as a human shield during a run through a shooter simulator at the Bellevue Police Station on Friday.

But it is also customizable.

Officers, for example, could take photos of the Bellevue City Council chambers and upload those to the five screens, thus creating a virtual, highly realistic and life-sized reproduction. They can insert bad guys and hostages into the scenario, and cause perpetrators to leap on to the screen.

Officers are monitored as they advance through a scenario, with poor responses recorded. If a response is especially poor – if, for example, an officer fails to notice a development that might render him or her injured or possibly killed – he or she may be zapped with a light electrical charge.

Elbert said the simulator raises Bellevue’s training program to a new level.

“It really is cutting edge, we’re super excited about it,” he said. “Because of the number of repetitions that are now possible, and because they are so easy to schedule, we can now do much more realistic training than we ever could before.”

Elbert said police-involved shootings that occasionally make national news can be reduced with training.

“Policing is very stressful,” he said. “Human beings have a natural tendency to lose some of their fine motor skills when they are under enormous stress, so the more they train under those conditions, the more they can remain calm and collected.”

The $350,000 cost of the simulator was raised at the Sept. 8 City Council session.

Councilwoman Carol Blood said some residents had objected to the cost at a time when city finances are tight and ways to reduce spending are being sought.

But, she said, the police department has reduced its spending and earned a tool that will enhance the safety both of officers and the general public.

City Finance Director Rich Severson said the department has saved more than enough to afford the simulator.

The police department’s 2103-2014 spending came in just over $1 million under budget, he said, primarily through cuts in overtime costs.

“That’s money they have already saved, not what they intend to save,” he said.

Elbert also raised the possibility of selling time on the simulator to other police departments, which he said could eventually earn back its cost.

“We’ve talked about it quite a bit,” he told Councilwoman Kathy Saniuk. “We just have to iron out those details as to how much that would cost them.”

And, yes, kids, you might get a free shot at it.

“We fully intend to integrate this into our police citizens academy and our teen academy,” Elbert said. “It would be good for people to get a little taste of the pressures involved in policing.”

 http://www.omaha.com/sarpy/bellevue/bpd-simulator-offers-terror-and-chaos-on-demand/article_24bb4a34-de76-56bf-ae73-de1860de7c7d.html

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Constant, realistic training is the only way to prepare for an uncertain reality
By Jim Glennon

http://calibrepress.com/2014/10/02/great-expectations/

“Under stress in a crisis, you will instinctively revert to the way that you train.”

—Charles Remsberg

Chuck Remsberg wrote that more than 20 years ago. It was true then and is truer now. Everything you do trains the brain. Under stress, you instinctively act the way you were trained to act. But I think it is time to add an addendum: If that statement is true—you damn well better evaluate the validity of your training!

Read more…

youneedhelpthumbThere are words and ideas that pass right through our brains like truthful reporting zips past the network news. In the shooting world, one of those words is “training.” Lots of respectable people talk about the importance of training. In response, we nod our heads and think “Yes! I need to get some professional training! I’ll get right on that!” But the moment passes, we go back to our daily life, and the next thing you know, we’re back to the normal routine – visiting the range once a month and perforating paper targets with great enthusiasm and vigor.

You Need Professional Help!

Once you’ve made the decision to carry a firearm for self-protection (you can read more about it here), nothing can improve your ability to protect yourself and your family like professional training. Not equipment. Not ammunition. Not lights and lasers. Not watching Steven Seagal movies. Nothing. Read more…

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