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Simulating the Heat of the Moment for Police Officers

​"Sir, let me see your hands," the police officer says to a man digging through a desk drawer. The officer is responding to a call indicating someone had broken into a warehouse.

"Get that light out of my eyes," comes the response. "Is that really necessary? I work here!"

Several more times, the officer makes the order, and several more times the man refuses. Suddenly, he pulls something out from beneath the desk — and it's a staple gun.

Officers participating in a train-the-trainer session at the Municipal Association of SC
The train-the-trainer sessions at the Municipal Association's office allows
agencies to check out the simulator and use it in their cities and towns.

Police officers participating in the Municipal Association's Risk Management Services response to resistance simulator training face this scenario, and in a split second, they must choose whether to shoot as the man is moving suddenly. Participants are less likely to shoot after the training, according to Todd Williams, public safety loss control consultant.

"Over the past few years, there has been a decline in training participants shooting in this scenario, while participants have improved their skills in areas such as verbal judo," he said.

This interactive simulator offers more than 500 scenarios like an officer ambush, hostage situation or suicide threat. The point of the exercise is to create a real-time sensation of the kind of tense, critical moment officers could face at any time and help officers understand how they handled the decisions they made. It allows them to use multiple degrees of force — stun guns and batons are also options, along with the firearm. Scenarios can be played back so officers and trainers can analyze reactions and train on correctly documenting a confrontation after it's over.

The Municipal Association's Risk Management Services has offered the simulator training since 2017. In a time of greatly increased public scrutiny of police conduct, the training has proven popular. In 2018, more than 960 people trained on the system.

Police departments participating in the SC Municipal Insurance Trust and SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund can send their training officers to the train-the-trainer courses offered in Columbia. This allows the agency to check out the system for onsite training in their city. The public safety loss control consultant is available to provide onsite training for agencies. Some cities have invited councilmembers, media and local community leaders to participate in this training to learn more about the challenges officers face.

Learn more by contacting Todd Williams at 803.354.4764 or See the calendar for upcoming trainings.