When police officers arrive to the scene of an incident they don't always know what they're walking into. Is a person reaching for a cell phone, their identification or a gun?
Officers must make a split-second decision in these cases. You don't realize just how quick that is until you watch law enforcement professionals go through simulated training where they have to decide whether to use a gun, Taser or verbal commands to gain control of a situation.
Lakewood police were given this opportunity this week when a simulated training program was offered for members to brush up on their training. The simulated exercise presents different incidents to officers through a computer automated video that runs on a projector screen.
Participants are given guns and Tasers before the start that are modified to "talk" with the computer system. Instead of shooting when the triggers are pulled the weapons shoot a laser at the screen. A computer tracks where the laser hits so the trainees can see whether their shots hit the target.
The instructor is able to manipulate the situation based on how the trainee is responding. If they are using the correct verbal commands, the instructor can alter the scenario so that all parties leave the scene. The instructor can also alter it so that it escalates to present a high-stress environment for trainees to have to respond.
Chief Mike Zaro noted the benefit of participating in such training gives officers the opportunity to work through real-life situations in a learning environment where no one gets hurt.
Check out the video of Zaro participating in one of the active shooter scenarios.