Durham police simulator helps officers train for deadly confrontations
Posted February 16
Durham, N.C. — Every day a police officer goes to work, deadly conflict is a real possibility, so Durham police officers train for such situations long before they go out on patrol.
A simulator at police headquarters helps officers learn how to make the split-second decision of whether to use deadly force.
"The more we can get our officers into simulated stressful situations, the better communication skills they'll have and decision-making skills they'll have under real stress," said Officer Nick Lynde, an instructor on the simulator.
The training used to be called Shoot – Don't Shoot, but it has evolved to incorporate non-lethal methods of force, such as an officer's presence, verbal commands, pepper spray or a stun gun, because, Lynde said, the preference is always to resolve a conflict without violence.
"A lot of it is making the right decisions, showing the right level of officer presence, escalating, de-escalating," he said.
WRAL News anchor Gerald Owens was given a chance to try the simulator. In his scenario, he responded to a burglar alarm at a warehouse and arrived to find a man who stands up behind a counter but refuses to show his right hand.
After repeated commands, the man quickly pulled an object from behind a box and pointed it in Owens' direction, so Owens shot him. The man didn't have a firearm, only a staple gun.
"When I saw him reach and say, 'Here it is,' with that motion, that to me said this is a threat that could be deadly for me," Owens said.
"He pulled it like someone would pull a firearm," he said. "If you don't make the decision in that moment, again, it could be the last decision you make as an officer because you're putting your life and your partner's life on the line if you don't make that decision, because of how you perceived that threat."