On Tuesday, the Huntsville Police Department gave members of the community a taste of what it's like to be a law enforcement officer. They were able to learn why and how police respond to various situations, some of the policies and procedures they have in place.
WAAY 31's Grace Campbell went to the Huntsville Police Department Police Training Academy to take part in it herself.
Everyone who participated experienced being an officer for a traffic stop and saw just how quickly a situation can escalate.
After going through the virtual simulator and hands on scenarios, attendee Jeff LaScola said this opened his eyes to what officers go through.
“Knowing that this is just a training exercise is how I’ll get through it but knowing that’s what people have to do every day as their jobs and careers is mind blowing, it’s scary," said LaScola.
The Huntsville Police Academy has a 320 degree virtual simulator that has 300 different scenarios and officer could experience. These scenarios come with more than 200,000 different outcomes. The virtual scenarios help officers speed up their reaction times in tense situations so when they're put in a real situation, their muscle memor kicks in.
Attendee Clay Manley said the simulator showed him how quickly officers need to react.
“When you have somebody pulling a weapon at you, you can’t wait too long,” said Manley.
Capt. Mike Izzo of the Huntsville Police Department said the quick judgement officers have to make is a matter of life or death.
“Your life depends on a matter of seconds, not even minutes,” said Izzo.
Participants were able to experience being an officer in three traffic stops and saw how there is no playbook for what an officer will find.
“You don’t know what you’re going to come upon," said Manley. "You’ve got to be able to move swiftly and take charge of the situation and do everything that you can to protect yourself number one, but also protect that person you’re having conversation with.”
If you would like to participate in this class, reach out to your Huntsville Police Department Community Resource Officer.