Training For The Unthinkable, Officers Fire Up Simulator

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

It's one of the most difficult decisions a police officer has to make, whether or not to pull the trigger on a dangerous suspect. Police train for what many of us can't imagine.

It’s a situation most officers hope they'll never encounter. “Responding to an active shooter at a business.”

Still, they must train for it, thanks to the Use of Force Simulator at Kaplan University in Omaha where students and officers get a lifelike chance to encounter several scenarios. “Everything is different, everything you go on potentially could be anything.”

Matthew Jarvis is a professor and former law officer. He says this simulator starts a conversation. “It's training in a controlled environment that can be done over and over again, nobody loses, everybody wins, we all learn from this.”

Take the situation of students holding hostages in a library. “Put the knife down.” Like any scenario, it's up to the officers to talk the suspect down. “The officer has to make that decision, at what point in time do I use legal force or not.”

Another scenario is a traffic stop turned rolling gun battle. In this case there are a lot of unexpected events and moments to talk it through. “It's one thing to talk about it, but it's another thing to be placed in the position.”

Perhaps the most difficult scenario was stopping a possible warrant suspect. The situation turns dangerous when the suspect’s child gets out of the truck with a gun. “Get away from him, go away.”

All scenarios bring difficult choices that force a conversation about the reality many officers face. “It's one of the most stressful things an officer will go through.”

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