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Video Simulations Train Troopers for Violent Encounters

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Virtual reality meets law enforcement
RALEIGH — A domestic violence victim's first line of defense often lies in the hands of a police officer. Officers spend a good deal of time calming outburstsbetween husbands and wives or girlfriends and boyfriends. These situations often put the police in extreme danger, but there are stepsthey take to prepare and protect themselves.

One branch of law enforcement, the Highway Patrol, uses a new form oftraining to prepare their officers for real life situations. In January,troopers started using video simulations to sharpen their skills andimprove their judgment.

The video puts the troopers face to face with someone carrying aweapon during a life threatening confrontation. For many troopers, thevideo simulation is the ultimate training. It's the one thing they'vetrained for that they hope they'll never have to use.

When the time comes, state troopers hope they'll be prepared. They spendhours on the firing range practicing their marksmanship. But,the most important training happens inside. There, troopers come face to face withreal life confrontations all through a video screen.

Lieutenant Fletcher Clay says drills include some from outside, some frominside vehicles, traffic stops and some domestics. This way troopers canhave a feeling of what it's like to be in different situations.

The simulation shows where the shots where fired, if and where a personwas hit and whether the officer made a good decision. Troopers take arisk never knowing who the person that they are approaching is. It may bean honest citizen, or it may be a person that has committed some criminalact.

That is the most dangerous part of the job. This preparation and trainingbecomes a key element in the troopers' survival.

Clay says the Highway Patrol's objective is to provide troopers withtraining that will prepare them for almost anything they may encounter.

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