Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Citizens Police Academy in Billings, MT

From the Helena Independent Record:
Over the weeks, the 20 men and women who signed on for the Billings Police Department's community liaison program heard harrowing tales about life-and-death encounters from the officers who experienced them. Those in the program were warned that even the most mundane calls turn explosive and were lectured about use-of-force laws, officer restraint and the need to rely on training to control fear.

This was a chance to put training into practice.

The firearms simulator--set up in the Billings Operations Center known as "the Barn"--features live-action confrontations that unfold, like movies, on a large white screen. Some contain empty threats, such as a man in an alley reaching too quickly for a wallet or a beer. In others, the figures come fast with guns or knives.

Trainees carry a real pistol or shotgun modified to shoot lasers instead of bullets. It's their job to determine when, and if, to shoot in self-defense or to protect another character.

"It's nothing like the real thing, but it's the closest thing you can get," Lt. Tim O'Connell said.
More cities should do this kind of thing.