Local police use virtual scenarios to prepare for real situations

Many of you may already have an opinion on police and the use of force. From last month’s deadly police-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota to the recent violent protests in Milwaukee, it seems like we hear about it all the time.

This year, numbers are up for officers killed in the line of duty. The number of people killed by officers is down, though, compared to last year.

The Washington Post reports that, as of last week, there have been 20 fewer fatal shootings by police officers this year than at the same time last year.

As for law enforcement deaths, the Officer Down Memorial Page shows 41 have been killed by gunfire or assault this year compared to 24 last year.

I spent time with several Paducah Police Officers Tuesday who say any training helps prepare them to make the right choice in dangerous situations.

Since last week they’ve using the TI Simulator to put every Paducah Police officer through realistic scenarios. Sgt. Drew Kelly says the officer on the computer controls the scenario outcome.

“A deadly force encounter, the outcome could be compliance, the outcome could be, you know, the individual attacks you,” Kelly said.

After every situation, they ask the officer to justify his or her actions. Chief Brandon Barnhill says that gives officers an opportunity to practice reducing the intensity of a conflict before using force.

“It’s not just the impact of who got shot, but it’s the one doing the shooting. It’s also the one that was an innocent bystander," Barnhill said.

The realistic training also allows officers to talk about situations and see if they acted in the right way.

“It gives them the tools to be able to make the decision in a split second, that people are able to sit back and make calculated decisions on, you know, after he makes his decision,” Kelly said.

The $40,000 system is loaned to officers around the state, and it’s mandatory training for Paducah Police officers every year.

“Any training that we do obviously benefits the community. It benefits the officers, and it benefits our agency,” Kelly said.

The Paducah Police Department will have the TI simulator for the next week and a half. It has been using the simulator for 12 years, but the scenarios change yearly.

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