HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Officer-involved shootings, unfortunately, happen not only locally, but all over the country.
That is why one police department in the Pee Dee took their training one step further. For two days they held a firearms shoot or don't shoot training simulator for officers as well people in the community who wanted to experience it.
Officials with the Hartsville Police Department, which hosted the training, said it is especially vital in a world where officers make life or death decisions on a daily basis.
Those life-threatening situations that involve someone shooting at police officers is why the HPD invited the TriCountry Technical College Criminal Justice Department to use their $80,000 equipment.
It was a simulator where real-life situations came up on a screen for people to see how to react. Officers said they can never prepare too much in order to help keep others safe. A shoot-or-don't-shoot situation can take someone's life in one second if police officers do not have the proper training.
"A lot of law enforcement is mundane; it's the same thing every day, day in, day out, but it only takes a split second to change and so you've got to always be on your toes," said HPD Capt. Mitch Stanley. "That's what this does. It shows you just how quick a situation can change and turn bad. It sort of wakes us up a little bit. We wanted everyone to go through this training with us so it kind of hit home and would bring us back up to speed so we are not docile in what we do every day."
The most recent officer-involved shooting was Tuesday morning in Lake City, where a man wanted for murder out of Virginia pulled the trigger first on two Lake City police officers, who returned fire and fatally wounded the suspect.
"You shouldn't be fearful of the guns. You should be fearful of the people who have the guns that shouldn't," said Lake City Interim Police Chief Jeff Johnson.
Johnson said his officers responded exactly the way they should during the shootout, where both officers walked away uninjured.
"Because it's not the guns that kill people, it's the people killing people with guns that have it improperly," he said. "So you just have to be careful."
The organizers with the equipment said they hope to visit other police departments throughout the state to provide similar training scenarios.