Weapons simulator a step toward positive policing

A virtual representation of Main Campus will help officers prepare for high-security situations.

JennyRoberts.jpgA wave of panic rushed through me as I finished reading the email from Temple Police informing students a “threat of violence” had been made against “a university near Philadelphia.”

I contemplated skipping my classes that Monday, but eventually decided to go anyway, finding comfort in knowing that an increased number of Temple Police officers would be visible on campus.

If there was an attack, they’d surely know how to handle the situation, I thought.

To ensure officers are prepared to handle these and other types of tense situations, Temple Police recently bought a new training simulator, Ti Training, so officers can practice applying standard protocol to various possible situations they may face with differing degrees of danger.

And while I am hopeful Temple Police never have to deal with a dangerous situation on par with that of the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, the reality is that violence is occurring all too often on college campuses lately. And as a result, university police need to be even more vigilant in their preparedness, to combat this recent rise in violent situations.

The implementation of Ti Training for the Temple Police force is a step in the right direction toward maintaining this vigilance.

Charlie Leone, executive director of Campus Safety Services, said he hopes to have officers practice with the Ti Training simulator at least twice a year.

“This way you’re going to the academy, doing your pistol training, you’re doing your rifle training and you’re doing your simulator training and it’s all coming together,” Leone said.

The Temple Police Department has become a leader in adopting this state-of-the-art training system, as the only other police department in the area using this system in full other than the Bensalem Police Department, Leone said.

At Temple, we are privileged to be protected by well-trained officers, and soon-to-be even more well trained, who make up the largest university police force in the country, as previously reported by The Temple News.

Training is essential for the department, Leone said, as there’s no such thing as too much training.

Officer Damon Mitchell, one of the instructors for the Ti Training simulator, said one of the main benefits of training with this system is the repetition of expected actions by officers.

“What you’re doing is you’re incorporating muscle memory,” Mitchell said. “I’m getting more practice and becoming more efficient with my equipment.”

An added benefit of the simulator is that it makes officers more cognisant of the other equipment they have in their arsenal, besides a pistol.

“The other piece to it is when not to use your weapon,” Leone said. “What else can you do?”

Temple Police officers mainly rely on the use of their batons, tasers and pepper spray, not deadly force, Leone said.

While this simulated training may not have much of an effect on the use of guns by Temple’s officers, as other police departments begin adopting similar state of the art training, officers across the country may draw their firearms less often, potentially quelling the recent cases of police brutality across the United States.

While the Ti Training system has the potential to benefit police departments across the country in terms of weapon accountability, Temple Police are looking focus more on its benefits as a skills refresher.

The Temple Police department is already looking at add-ons and upgrades for Ti Training, which include features that allow simulations that use Temple’s campus as the virtual setting, making for even more realistic training for officers.

At Temple, students study and reside in a crime-ridden area of Philadelphia. It’s unfortunate that we receive TU Alerts as often as we do, but it’s just the nature of the location in which our campus is located.

I’m glad to offset the high crime rate in the area, we have a large, vigilant police force working to reduce crime and to keep us safe, and this new Ti Training will only make officers more equipped to do so.

Jenny Roberts can be reached at jennifer.roberts@temple.edu or on Twitter @jennyroberts511.

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