Prestonsburg Police Department plugs into virtual training program

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Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 7:29 PM EST
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Officers with the Prestonsburg Police Department are sharpening their skills with laser focus, working with an electronic training program to bring real-world scenarios onto the big screen.

“You know, every day you go out here and you have to do the job. But this is a opportunity to where we can interact with people and actually get good at those situations that you can face each and every day,” said

The simulator, borrowed from the Kentucky League of Cities, incorporates interactive laser and microphone technology to give officers a real-world training session in a controlled environment.

Officers are given information about their calls, then presented the scene. From there, they work out the response and try to deescalate the situation in front of them.

“It kind of gives you a tense moment. Your heart’s racing, you know, your blood’s pumping,” said Woods.

From active shooter scenarios, to domestic violence and home raids, more than 900 programed situations are available to the department. Lethal action, non-lethal action, crisis conversations, or other tools are deployed during each call. The program comes equipped with laser and infrared versions of the tactical gear officers use on a daily basis.

“The actors on the screen will actually do what command you have and what tool you use,” said Woods. “We can put a scenario up that an officer, hopefully, will never encounter in his entire career.”

While the officers are put to the test using the program, it also serves as a look into the day-to-day for those who have not been on the officer’s side of the call. From local lawyers to judges, Woods said he has given many people a chance to go through the simulation.

“You sit back and you can kind of get a feel- when you’re sitting in a courtroom- of how things kind of really played out. And get a good idea. So, it’s been kind of eye-opening for a lot of them,” said Woods. “Kind of bridge the gap between law enforcement and what everyday citizens kind of perceive.”

Detective Brad Caldwell and Sgt. Bryan Tipton facilitate the program, which requires annual training for the department. It is updated with new scenarios every year to keep things fresh, some of the calls mirroring situations officers have experienced across the state and others created to help them prepare for anything.

“It’s just a way to let people know how quickly things can escalate and, you know, how you interact with people kind of determines how the situation may go,” Woods said.

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