New simulator helps train police for potential life-threatening situations

Richmond police gave 8News a behind the scenes look at a high tech simulator designed to help officers determine when to use their gun.

“The important thing here is for all the officers and citizens that are undergoing this training to look at this training as if it’s real,” said Captain Harvey Powers with the Richmond Police Department.

It was the first thing we were told as we waited to go through the simulator, not to view this as a video game but as real life. Police saying all the scenarios are ones officers can face on the streets on a daily basis. The scenarios varied from kids who had found a gun, an area known for prostitution, to calls for a suspicious vehicle. While some scenarios ended peacefully, others ended with shots fired.

“When an officer is out there on the street on a midnight shift at 2 o’clock in the morning, stopping a car in the dark, and not knowing anything about the occupant or occupants that are in that vehicle, it’s very real,” said Powers.

Participants have to interact with a screen, issuing commands as a police officer. An operator can then punch up different outcomes for the scenario.

The simulator can also show you where your shots landed. While 8News reporter Mark Tenia hit his target, one shot went past and officers say could have hit an innocent bystander. It’s something they always have to think about when faced with lethal force. Richmond police say they’re planning on not only letting officers use the simulator but as many people in the public as well.

“Where they can understand to actually walk a mile in our shoes and to see the decisions we have to make in the very limited amount of time we have to make them,” said Powers.

Only a few officers have used the simulator so far. Powers says they will continue to train officers using the simulator so they are better prepared to make good decisions when out on the streets

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