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Cover Story

Simulated Use-of-Force Training

What’s to be learned from these fancy scenario-based training tools?

January 01, 2002  |  by Dave Douglas

AIS/PRISim also offers a laptop system. It is scaled to the needs of departments with smaller budgets but the equally critical demand for training effectiveness. The AIS/PRISim laptop system provides intensive one-on-one training with specially fitted laser-firing weapons. The trainer's laptop command system can be set up virtually anywhere. The system's plug-and-go projector, speaker and sensor units require no mounting or cabinets and can be ready in minutes.

Would you see his gun in time? How would you react? In the simulation, you just feel the sting from the shoot-back device, but it might be real next time.

Laser Shot is one of the newer companies in the law enforcement training field. Its product evolved from developing systems for hunter safety programs. Shortly after Laser Shot was founded in 1997, it introduced the LS-1000 camera. This patented camera system offers technology that up until now was available only with the high-dollar training systems.

The Laser Shot Simulator is dedicated to providing an economical tool in firearms training from basic education to advanced scenario-based training. With an entire system that runs only $14,000, almost every law enforcement agency can afford to train with a high-fidelity force-option simulator.

Laser Shot works with law enforcement on a daily basis to improve the simulator and to help prepare law enforcement personnel. Laser Shot Simulation has offices in Stafford, Texas outside of Houston and in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. In partnership with a psychologist, Laser Shot developed shooting drills that improve performance in gun presentation as well as other shooting skills. Using the drills, significant time reductions are seen in presentation, target acquisition and accurate first-round delivery.

Simulated training evaluates not only how you would react to situations in the field alone but how you would work with your partner or backup.

Where Do We Go From Here?

It would be great to announce that we are just a few months away from having the "Star Trek" Holo-Suite, but in reality we are a long way off from developing that technology. Of course, I have the benefit of the crystal ball that was issued when I was promoted to sergeant. The interesting trends in force option simulation break down into two categories, which for lack of better terms can be identified as bigger and smaller.

Bigger Systems, Smaller Systems

The bigger category shows a trend toward team training in multiple-room scenarios. John Zeyen at FATS talked about developing the Weapons Team Engagement Trainer or WTET system.

In this type of multiple-room training, a pair of officers or a tactical team would be given a scenario by the trainer. For example: Respond to a house to a report of domestic violence. As the officers approach the door they hear a woman screaming, "Please don't kill me!" They call out the appropriate commands and admonitions and enter the house. They hear more sounds coming from a room down the hall. As they enter the room, they see a man with a gun to the head of a woman.

Sensors on or in the screen recognize the officers' presence. Additionally, they detect whether the officers have a position of cover or concealment. If the officers are not in a good tactical position, the system automatically takes on a scenario where the man points the gun at his unconcealed human target and fires. The system will register a hit or miss. It also identifies whether the officer is wounded or dead. If wounded, the pager each officer is wearing loudly and rapidly beeps. If the system registers the officer as dead, the pager gives off a continuous "flat line" tone and it shuts off your gun. If the officers have not sufficiently handled the situation, the shooter runs off to another part of the house and the encounter continues.

The smaller systems category shows trends toward miniaturization. The guns will have wireless cellular technology built into them. No more tethers back to the computer. The system operator can create failures-to-fire to test officer recovery skills under stress. Additionally, the entire packages will become smaller and be more easily portable. Alan Winslette of Laser Shot says his company has a system with the approximate footprint of a laptop computer and takes less than five minutes to become operational.

Trainers continually hear the cry that force option simulation will never take the place of real shooting on the range. This is usually from the more technically challenged among us.

In fact, it's just not supposed to. It's apples and oranges.

Shooting at the range develops the hand-eye coordination necessary to perform the highly technical and perishable skill of shooting. Some safety, tactics and stress training can and should be included in a good range training program. Force option simulation training develops decision-making skills. One is a physical skill, the other is a mental exercise. Cops need both. The combination of these skills is needed to give us an edge in the field when we are presented with potentially deadly situations.

For More Information

FATS, Inc.

IES Industries USA, Inc.


Laser Shot

Dave Douglas is a sergeant on the San Diego PD with 25 years of service. He uses force-options training on a regular basis in the in-service training division.

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