WMBF Investigates: Simulations shed light on difficulty of policing

WMBF Investigates: Simulations shed light on difficulty of policing

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - In a WMBF News investigation Wednesday night, we looked at how this digital age is affecting modern day policing and the stress it can add to the job.

WMBF News took part in the use-of-force training law enforcement officers go through at the criminal justice academy.

For an officer on the scene of a situation that is quickly escalating into something more dangerous they have to be able to think fast and smart, and rely on their training.

And although simulations may just be a video and a computer simulating the peoples' actions, it forces potential officers to figure out what they would do if a scenario were to play out in real life.

"They'll insert that just like a regular gun, cycle that slide and the weapon fires," said instructor Kevin Gilliam.

While a gun is available, it's not the only tool instructors hope their students reach for.

"What if the situation dictates other than you just showing up? Then what's the best use of force," Gilliam said. "This (pointing to his mouth), can you talk someone into doing something maybe they don't want to do?"

Instructors encourage officers in this training exercise to talk to the screen to try to de-escalate whatever situation is unfolding.

They're hoping officers will learn to rely on their words as well as their weapons if needed.

And while these scenarios try to simulate real life, they can only go so far in teaching officers how to react.

"They don't want to have to shoot them," Gilliam said. "They want to end these things peacefully. In this situation, they go ahead and pull the weapon and I think that's part of the drawback because it's just a guy on a video, but when it really happens in real life that's a whole different thing than just doing it on this screen."

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