In a dark room featuring stress-inducing surround-sound gunfire and screams, a projector produced interactive scenarios that Maryville Public Safety officers played out as a part of their yearly training Aug. 20.
MPS officers participated in a certification measure issued by the city’s insurance provider the Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association. The Firearms Training Simulator provides various electronic scenarios that allow officers to practice their skills, wielding an electronic firearm or taser when force is necessary.
Essentially a virtual reality simulation from a computer and projector, officers are able to receive training in scenarios such as active shootings, domestic disputes, pull-over drive-offs and suicide threats. Each scenario can be altered to have different outcomes, forcing the participant to make quick decisions, just as if they are in the line of duty.
After each scenario is finished, those in the room have an open dialogue, discussing and justifying why specific decisions were made by the participants.
MPS Director Keith Wood said the simulation helps provide officers with quality experience they can transfer to real-life situations.
“These scenarios are meant to prepare our officer staff for situations that could happen any day,” Wood said. “Just as important as range (target shooting) work, they’ve got to be able to make the right judgment calls in the field.”
Dialogue following the scenarios included whether or not to use lethal force, basic coordination skills and moral reasoning.
“In the unfortunate climate of there being more and more active shootings, we make sure they get training in those scenarios on the firearms training simulator,” Wood said. “We are preparing our officers for the worst so we can transfer it over and be the best we can.”
MPS officer Wayne Wilson said the FATS provides trainees with proper insight.
“The hardest part about it is not ever being in the situations before,” Wilson said. “If we can get in those situations, in a way, prior to one happening for real, it can make a huge difference.”