Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

March 7, 2014

Officers train for real-life with simulation program

GLASGOW — The shots penetrated the glass of a police officer’s car. The officer’s last moments were spent screaming in agony. He was killed by a man who he just initiated a traffic stop on.

The real-life dash camera footage of that Texas incident was shown to Glasgow Police Department Officer Nick Houchens during his Kentucky League of Cities’ TI Firearms Simulator Training course.

Houchens didn’t just watch action on the life-size screen – he pretended it was actually happening to him in real time. There were simulations that were based on actual events where officers were shot or killed. Houchens, while using a fake gun, “shot” individuals who he thought posed an immediate danger to himself or others. When he “shot” the person on the screen, he or she stopped moving. After a simulation, the screen showed where the “shots” would have been if it were a real scenario.

Not every suspect was “armed” in the simulations.

One of the reasons the training is in place is to make sure law enforcement understands the meaning of proper force, GPD Lt. Jimmy Phelps said.

“There are many split second decisions police officers make,” Phelps said. “[During the simulations], you get a do-over. In real life, you don’t.”

One of the scenarios Houchens experienced involved looking for a shooter inside a building full of fast-moving people. In another scenario, a man tried to stab a woman in what started out to be just a simple loud-music complaint.

Giving the officers a variety of scenarios remind them about the uncertainty of events.

“You never know what kind of situation may turn violent,” he said.

Phelps said he has witnessed many changes to the yearly training program.

“It has gone from a screen half this size,” he said, pointing at the wall sized-screen, “The (gun) pack was big and had a hose connected to it. ... The scenarios are more involved now than they used to be.”

Once all the GPD officers are finished with the training, he said it will be opened up to other agencies in the area, such as Munfordville, Horse Cave and Cave City.

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