WAAY 31 got a look at the Huntsville Police Department's new training simulator. It takes officers through real-life scenarios to help teach them the best way to handle situations they may encounter on the job.
The Huntsville Police Department's new simulator is state-of-the-art, because officers are able to approach situations and see it from nearly all angles. Captain Dewayne McCarver, who is over the training academy, said older simulators only approached situations head-on.
"Threats can come at you from any direction at anytime, so this system allows you to make sure officers don't get that training scar in thinking that the only threat is the one that they are looking at in the moment. That they have to be aware of everything going on around them," McCarver said.
The new system allows Huntsville police to have an officer controlling responses of a suspect who the officer is interacting with in the simulator. When an officer gives a verbal command such as "get on the ground" or "drop the weapon," the simulator can change how the suspect reacts.
"They may go in today on a scenario and when they run through the training, they didn't use any force. If they come back and train with us tomorrow, then they can run through the exact same scenario, and the guy may pull a gun. They can never get comfortable with any scenario," McCarver said.
McCarver said all officers in the department will train on the simulator and will be tasked with deciding if they need to use pepper spray, a taser, rifle or a pistol. Officers also have to evaluate if a weapon is not necessary and if they can try to talk down a suspect. He said the department hopes if any officer is ever put in a situation where they encounter an armed suspect, they know how to keep calm.
"The reality is no matter how much we train, when you hit one of those situations, it's going to be a tough, tough day," he said.
The department has to pay a yearly lease with the company who makes the simulator and said the $50,000 price of the simulator is worth it.
"We could have one poor decision-making incident out there with an officer and it would cost the city far more than $50,000 a year. I think this an investment well worth it and our city council agreed," he said.
Huntsville police plan to invite law enforcement from across North Alabama to train on the new simulator because they all work together out in the field.