Friday, June 13, 2008

I was off politics today in a way. Rev. Al Sharpton was in Charlotte protesting police and the death of a young man at the hands of a police officer.

I helped them out by doing a companion piece on new training efforts for officers to deal with potentially lethal situations. Here's the story if you're interested. Have a great weekend! This weekend's Political Connections focuses on the week that was and Obama's return trip. 6pm tonight and Sunday at 11am on News 14 Carolina.

RALEIGH -- This year alone more than two dozen officer involved shootings were reported to the State Bureau of Investigation.

In some parts of the state there is new technology to help prepare officers for these situations. The simulator can look like a video game, but it's far from a game. It trains officers to deal with life and death situations.

"To say okay what should I do in this situation, not to jump to a quick decision but to think that decision through before taking any action," Anthony Caison, Dean at Wake Tech Community College said.

This year alone, the SBI has investigated 26 officer involved shootings, half were fatal. The statistics only include shootings the SBI has investigated.

Under state law, officers essentially have the authority to shoot and kill if the officer's life or any other life is in danger. The simulator allows superiors to see how their officers will react in a life and death situation.

"We want to see how accurate they are in situations because the screen is firing at them and it actually makes them more stressful and see how they react under stress," Fuquay-Varina Police Chief Larry Smith said.

Beyond the fact they believe it helps with decision making and accuracy with shooting, they also believe it has a huge impact in the real world.

"And many of the scenarios in the firearms training simulator are actual scenarios that have happened and that's why they are constantly updating the software," Caison added.

"I've been through the fats training and I find myself ducking behind the table and yelling commands at the screen to drop their weapons and we want to see that to make the officers are doing the right things," Chief Smith said.

The right thing to make sure no one dies unless absolutely necessary.

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