LONDON, Ohio (WCMH) — Police officers deal with life and death situations way too often. On Tuesday, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy opened a new advanced police training village where officers learn how to react quickly but appropriately.
Since December 2014, police, church leaders and public officials including Attorney General Mike DeWine have worked on a committee tasked with developing ideas to better train officers about how and when to use lethal force.
The police training scenarios are meant to be as realistic as possible, but they are conducted in a safe environment where no one is injured.
Officers experience video simulations, live-action scenarios with real people and simulated ammunition. DeWine said this is the only place in the state of Ohio that will be combining all three.
Wayne Dumolt is a training officer at OPOTA and led the first simulation. In a darkened room, his flashlight interacted with the three-screen, 180-degree fire simulator.
“Partner, I’ve got a woman with a gun and she is down,” Dumolt said during the exercise. “I’m checking around the rest of the kitchen.”
A man with a gun appears. Dumolt yells for the man to drop it, then shots are fired and the suspect is down.
Devices can be attached to the officer so not only will trainers know when and where his shot hit, but the devices also send a shock to the area of the body where the officer was hit.
“We want the intensive hands-on training to enable officers to react quickly and appropriately, maintain their on-the-job safety and make the decisions with the best possible outcome while protecting the public,” DeWine said.
Training always includes a debriefing after the simulation to talk about what went right and what went wrong.
“It is certainly hard to imagine a job any tougher than being a police officer,” DeWine said.
The idea is to stress the officer and put his head on a swivel, while training to make good decisions.
“I could feel my blood pressure rise each time I went through the simulations,” Dumolt said.
Officer Dumolt said the training teaches officers to not get locked in on the video simulation.
“I was looking at the guy on the screen, then he vanishes, within the next blink of my eye, there was somebody grabbing me,” Dumolt said.
Getting a better handle on when to use lethal force is a main priority according to officials.
“Mistakes can be made here, and with intense training the idea is to lower the chances of a mistake on the street,” DeWine said. “We are going to critique you, we are going to talk about it, and then when you are in the real world, that officer will have had that background. The first time an officer comes upon a scenario, we do not want it to be real.”
Training includes: De-escalation training where one officer responds to an active threat, building searches, firearms training and subject control. The training has nearly 500 different scenarios.
The first two buildings, one containing a firearms simulator with the three-screen and the other called the “Shoot House,” are part of the first phase of what will eventually be eight buildings in the law enforcement training village. The village is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Law enforcement officers interested in the training can sign up on the OPATA web site.
The cost of the training village is approximately $1.4 million. The Ohio General Assembly allocated funds for the village in the 2016 – 2017 budget bill.