CEDAR PARK, TEXAS - Cedar Park police have a new tool to train for real life scenarios.
It’s called a "Use of Force Judgment Simulator,” and it allows officers to run through almost 900 scenarios on a projector screen in a bullet-proof trailer.
The scenarios range from traffic stops to domestic violence calls to active shooter situations, and are supposed to be similar to what officers encounter in the field.
Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix said, traditionally, training about communication, firearms, policy and use of force has been done separately. But this new tool brings it all together.
"This brings everything together where the officer is using their cognitive judgment skills to run through particular scenarios where they're taking all of those things they've been trained in and exercising them at one time,” said Mannix.
Officers can use pepper spray, flash lights, stun guns and laser guns or they can practice with live ammunition.
"It's really bringing the real world to the training environment. There's a certain unpredictability with each scenario but there's different outcomes that come with each scenario,” said Mannix. "You can't necessarily game it because you're not sure what kind of scenario they're going to give you,” said Officer Keco Motton.
Corporal Marie Reinarz said she’s glad to have more real life type training available.
"Practice is what makes you better at what you do," said Reinarz. "We’re going to have this availability to practice situations where we may have to make a decision about deadly force, we don't get that practice very often in real life which is a good thing, so having this practice available to us will help us prepare for if that time ever comes."
"It better prepares you for when you do go out there. You interact with that citizen that may be just having a bad day, so you may be able to just verbally talk to them and change that whole situation,” said Motton.
He said it’s helpful to talk about what went right and what went wrong after officers go through the scenario.
"I think the best outcome of having this particular training environment is the fact that it can produce the best outcome on the street,” said Mannix.
Mannix said this training partners up with their ICAT (integrating communication assessment in tactics) training.
"You go into it just like you go into any call you get on the street, you're given minimal information about what you're going to encounter when you walk in, and then the scenario unfolds in front of you," said Mannix.
"For our officers this is a very amazing tool for us to have,” said Reinarz.
He said they’re the first department in Texas to have this simulator.
"We're not immune from any type of crime that can occur in Austin or anywhere else. I'm very proud of the fact that it is a very safe city but our officers still do encounter violent situations,” said Mannix.
"As those instances may become more and more prevalent, we have this system in our backyard -- so we don't have to borrow something from another department, we don't have to drive somewhere else, we're going to be able to utilize this on a weekly basis if we like,” said Reinarz.
"Mental illness calls for service are actually growing and we have a good variety of mental illness interactive scenarios we can go through,” said Officer Robert Ducroz.
"As the transition in technology changes so is the method of policing is going to change in your community and we have this new tool right at home in our backyard, something that's only enhanced our policing right here in Cedar Park," said Motton.
Crews just installed the $450,000 dollar simulator two weeks ago, which Mannix said was paid for with leftover money in last year's budget.
He said officers will begin training soon.
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