Fairview Heights police simulator will help train officers in de-escalation
A drunk and belligerent man stumbles toward you, a knife outstretched in his hand.
If you were a police officer, would you use your stun gun on him? Perhaps pepper spray? Or, would you shoot him?
It's a decision officers have to make in a split second. They don't have time to mull it over; they just have to rely on their training to guide them to the best decision.
That's why Fairview Heights Police Department decided to purchase an interactive, video game-style training simulator, so officers can get more training in life-or-death situations without putting anyone in danger. The simulator, called the MILO Range, is used in police academies across the country to train officers. Fairview Heights is the first department in the metro-east to purchase its own.
"In any given situation, officers have to make decisions in a split second. The body has to naturally respond, and they do that by training," Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Gailius said. "We're always looking for opportunities for officers to train."
Citizens in the police academy told officers they loved having the chance to try out the simulator, so they could see what it was like on a day-to-day basis for officers. It's not something they could have experienced otherwise, Gailius said.
The MILO training system will be opened to the public starting May 12 at Fairview Heights Police Department's open house. If anyone wants to see how they would react in a life or death situation, albeit a fake one, this is their chance.
The program has 850 scenarios officers can go through, from a hostage situation to a domestic disturbance involving a gun. Every six months, the department can get updated scenarios and can also input their own.
"There are scenarios for pretty much every type of call you could go on," said Officer Tim Mueller.
The simulator cost the department $29,000, which was paid entirely with drug-seizure funds, Gailius said. No taxpayer money was used.
With their own device, officers can step off the streets for a short amount of time, run through a few simulations, then get back out to their cars, Gailius said. Before, the shift would lose two officers for a few hours while they traveled to Southwestern Illinois College to train.