University police officers now have new technology to deal with hundreds of possible confrontations they face on the job.
Temple Police installed a new training simulator two weeks ago. The simulator, developed by a company called Ti Training, aims to help officers understand when and how to use force in different situations.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said SEPTA Transit Police and the Bensalem Police Department have also implemented the simulator.
“We’re always looking for new tech,” Leone said. “Prior to this, we had to create a scenario, which needed actual bodies.”
Last June, Temple Police held a full-scale simulation of an active-shooter situation in Barton Hall, with actors playing victims and full involvement of emergency response units.
Leone said the simulator will be used for training different shifts of officers throughout the day. He added security could also use the programs at night instead of coming in during the day, making training more convenient.
The simulator contains video clips of actors in different situations which officers can interact with. The officer faces a blank wall the clips are projected onto, while an instructor, like Officer Damon Mitchell, can have the officer go through different scenarios.
According to the Ti Training website, the simulator includes more than 500 situations officers can interact with. Each scenario has “a number of variations,” Mitchell said, creating thousands of different experiences. The variations also contain several “wild card” options, like a person who seems to be complying suddenly pulling out a knife and attempting to attack the officer.
Other scenarios focus on a specific theme, like mental illness or a suicidal subject. The Ti Training website also mentions a “low-light simulation,” where officers are required to hold a flashlight that appears to actually shine a light in the projection. As the scenario plays out, the software tracks the movement of the flashlight and illuminates the scene accordingly.
“The simulator is equipped with everything we carry on the street,” Mitchell said, which includes a Glock 17, a taser and pepper spray, which are everyday equipment, as well as a rifle and shotgun, which are used in specific situations. The mock weapons for the training room have pressurized clips that mimic the actual firing of the gun when the trigger is pulled.
“It’s as real as you can get in a training situation,” Mitchell said.
The simulator can also accommodate props and objects officers might encounter in real situations, which can then be used for cover or function as obstacles.
“We want to get everyone in to try it out,” Leone said.
He plans for officers to use the simulator at least two times a year, but training will constantly be available.
After a simulation is run through, officers are asked to explain what situation they were faced with, how they reacted and their reasoning behind it. They are then debriefed by the instructor in charge.
Mitchell said officers can see what policies and procedures they may have violated or gotten wrong.
The simulator can and will have future upgrades, Leone said, which could include a vest officers wear that vibrates when “hit” by the actor in the simulation. There will also be an addition of Temple-specific scenarios. Ti Training would film actors on location, playing out scenarios on actual Temple sidewalks and in known buildings around campus.
Julie Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter Christie_Jules.