Citizens learn about lethal, less-lethal tools at Police Academy - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Citizens learn about lethal, less-lethal tools at Police Academy

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Students learned more about why Myrtle Beach Police officers use lethal and less-lethal force when responding to calls. This marks week seven for the Myrtle Beach Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy.

The pepper ball gun is one less-lethal tool officers are trained to use. It shoots a combination of capsules filled with baby powder and others filled with OC spray, which is the pepper-like chemical that makes your eyes burn and makes you cough. Officers are trained to aim at the feet or well above the heads of a group of people. The cloud of powder scatters the crowd before the situation escalates.

Another less-lethal tool each officer is trained to use is the taser. When deployed, it will shoot two prongs that hook into you. Then the taser will pulse electricity into your muscles for five seconds, immobilizing you. The officers are trained to fire between seven and 15 feet from the suspect for the best results, but the taser has 21 feet of wire. The two main spots an officer aims for are your back and your legs.

These tools are used to get a situation under control so that an officer does not have to shoot his or her gun. But each officer is trained to use these tools carefully, because there is always a huge liability using any force at all. So they will never intentionally aim for the head, neck, or groin, and officers will not use a taser on a pregnant woman or a child.

To get a taste for when an officer would decide to use lethal force, students took turns in the Firearms Training Simulator (FATS). It’s like a big video game, but the gun is designed to shoot a laser instead of bullets. There are hundreds of scenarios that the simulator will act out and you have to respond. The suspect may or may not comply with your voice commands, and you will be forced to decide if you need to use lethal force or not.

“That adrenaline and that stress is a at full max,” says Private First Class Randy Miller, with the Myrtle Beach Police Department, after one group completes a scenario. “And if you have to face a decision like that, it’s tough. It’s really tough.”

The simulator also projects scenarios like a domestic violence situation or sharp shooter training. And after each heart-pounding encounter, it gives new officers that opportunity to learn how to accurately write up reports afterwards.

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