Tablet PCs and Bluetooth technology just joined the war on crime in DeKalb County.
During a media demonstration on Aug. 4, the DeKalb County Police Department unveiled its new, high-tech firearms training tool, the XVT Meggitt Firearms Simulator.
With a price tag of $153,000, the simulator is a virtual system that allows instructors to create various scenarios to teach officers how to react during active shooter situations.
“This is a fantastic tool for us,” DeKalb County Police Chief William O’Brien said. “It enables us to put officers in scenario-based training that we can actually see how they are reacting.”
The simulator, which was purchased with a grant, allows instructors to determine whether officers are following policies and procedures on handling particular incidents.
Instructors can “grade officers and make sure we’re doing what we should be doing when we encounter situations that could become hostile,” O’Brien said.
“We have an opportunity to see them interact with the situation,” O’Brien continued. “If we just do everything at the outdoor range, we’re shooting at a fixed paper target; nobody’s yelling back at you; there are no distractions and dogs barking or phones beeping.
“We can throw all these things at them to throw that added stress and pressure to the officer,” O’Brien said.
Patrick Grella, a training manager with Meggitt, said the system uses real weapons that have been modified for use in the virtual environment.
“All of these weapons were once live fired and that’s what gives this realism for this virtual [system],” Grella said. “Everything is what they’re going to be using in the field.”
Grella said the simulator’s marksmanship program prepares officers for the actual live-fire course.
“By doing these fundamental skills it reinforces the training aspect and makes you more confident when you actually use your weapon, if you have to use your weapon,” Grella said. “This is not designed to replace live fire training but it is designed to help improve that.”
The system’s judgmental training takes the training further.
“Once you know how to shoot, we then show you situations on when to shoot or when to engage a target and what type of escalational force should be used,” Grella said.
Branching technologies allow the instructor to navigate the student into different scenarios involving verbal commands, Tasers and lethal force. The system has approximately 250 scenarios with more than 430 branching paths.
In addition to the simulator, the police department purchased a shoot house with $135,000 in confiscated funds.
The shoot house has padded walls, where officers can use live fire, and a catwalk for instructors. This facility enhances officers’ training by exposing them to judgmental scenario-based incidents encountering and reacting to threatening situations.
“This is one of the latest and greatest simulation tools that we use for law enforcement,” Grella said.