Simulator teaches officers how to react in life threatening situations

A follow-up to a story FOX25 brought you earlier this month. A group of Oklahoma firearms instructors believe the Del City police officer who shot and killed 16 year old Dane Scott Jr. last year should not be charged with manslaughter. Scott was shot near I-35 and SE 15th after a high speed chase through the Metro.

The group called OALEFI says Capt. Harrison followed training protocol, and showed FOX25's Christine VanTimmeren how it felt to be in that officer's shoes.

All it takes is a few seconds for a police situation to go from bad to worse. It's impossible to use reality to prepare officers for a life threatening situation, but training programs like CLEET can use virtual reality or simulations.

"Officers have to make these decisions in seconds. So we bring them in here, give them a fact situation," said former CLEET firearms instructor Joe Evans. Evans uses training simulation programs across the country.

"Then when they're out in the field, and they get confronted with these things, they know the answer," said Evans.

The answers aren't always as easy as they seem. The simulator presents a "shoot or don't shoot" scenario where the officer in the training has to interact to solve the problem. Based on what the officer is or isn't saying, and his or her actions, the person controlling the simulator can alter what is happening.

"We've even got a shoot back cannon. This thing actually shoots back at you," said Evans. The shoot back cannon uses small, plastic pellets.

Some situations are easy but in one like Capt. Harrison's, where a felon is running away, the decision is much harder.

"It's a clear-cut case. This was a violent fleeing felon that justifiably needed to be stopped, said OALEFI spokesperson James Bowen.

Bowen believes Dane Scott Jr. posed a risk to not only other officers but the public as well. He thinks Capt. Harrison acted according to his training even if it meant shooting him in the back. The district attorney believes the threat was gone.

"If it's a violent fleeing felon that represents a danger to the public if they're allowed to escape, we shoot them until they stop," said Evans.

Split second decisions that mean the difference between life and death. Capt. Harrison's case is one that both sides will fight hard to prove.

To see our previous story about this case click here.