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Scenarios practiced through Use of Force Simulator at Citizen’s Police Academy

Class member Ashley Fischer-Jewell takes aim during a scenario with the Use of Force Simulator.

Ellen Pill

“You’re going to have to make a decision that many will later critique and debate for months, in the blink of an eye.”

This is how Wooster Police Capt. Scott Rotolo described the Use of Force Simulator in his scheduling email to members of the Citizen’s Police Academy.

“Our goal is to put you in situations that law enforcement officers face every day.”

The Use of Force Simulator is a tool officers use to hone skills used in real-life situations they face on a daily basis. Going well beyond and different from actual weapons practice, the simulator replicates situations where endless factors must be taken into account in a matter of seconds and decisions made as to how to react.

Each member of the class was offered an hour training session using the simulator. The officers present gave constant feedback and often a situation was replayed so that their tips and suggestions could be applied.

The session began with basic training in how to use the electronic “gun.” When fired at the wall-sized video game, it simulates a shot being fired. After a bit of target practice and encouragement to speak to the screen as if one was actually in the situation, the simulations began.

It is difficult to describe the intensity of this personal experience. “I need to see your hands,” I shouted at the screen. “Do you have any identification?”

I was “killed” twice because I spent too much time giving warnings. I didn’t understand how quickly a gun could move from pointed away from me to pointed directly at me and fired.

After firing my weapon, my hands shook, and I could feel my heart racing. It felt all too real. My aim was off because practicing at a target and practicing in the middle of a real-life scenario is, it turns out, completely different. While I’d been surprisingly right on during practice, I couldn’t even manage to aim under duress.

And if I had shot this fictitious character before she had a chance to shoot me? Years of litigation could lie ahead along with severe and unrelenting media scrutiny. One way, death; the other way, years of litigation and media scrutiny. Either way lives are lost or irreversibly altered. Officers face these lose/lose decisions daily.

Class member Ashley Fischer-Jewell said, “The simulator gave me insight into some of the situations officers face. There was so much to think about and so little time to process that information. I have a new respect for what officers have to go through every day.”

If a law enforcement officer stops you, keep your hands visible. Cooperate. Just like you, they are someone’s husband, mother, child, brother.

At the end of the day everyone just wants to get home safely.

Published: March 17, 2017
New Article ID: 2017703179987