Fairfield police begin testing training simulators

The city of Fairfield has brought in its first of three vendors of training simulators. The city is looking to purchase a simulator with drug forfeiture money the city police department has saved over the years. Pictured are some of the weapons used by a simulator along with the computer used to run the program.

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The city of Fairfield has brought in its first of three vendors of training simulators. The city is looking to purchase a simulator with drug forfeiture money the city police department has saved over the years. Pictured are some of the weapons used by a simulator along with the computer used to run the program.

Every year Ohio law enforcement officers must re-qualify with their weapons with live ammunition, but how much and the type of training is up to each policing entity, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

“(Training), that would be up the local agencies,” said Ohio AG spokeswoman Jill del Greco. “The local authority determines how much range time is needed.”

The Fairfield Police Department is looking to help cut costs by purchasing a training simulator, which would be more than a weapons simulator. The department is bringing in three vendors this month in order to test out which system will be worth the investment.

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“You can see how fast these scenarios can happen,” said Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey, during Wednesday’s “test drive” of one of the three vendors’ systems. “This is not to train for marksmanship. This is for decision-making.”

Each scenario starts off the same, but can branch out to any number of outcomes — anywhere from a peaceful interaction or verbal assault to a suspect firing a weapon.

“It is another method of insuring that our officers are very well prepared to respond to a critical incident,” Dickey said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2012 invested in a mobile simulator where departments can get a chance to have added training. In 2015, the Attorney General’s Office moved to impose new police training standards and increased training hours.

Del Greco said simulator training “is definitely valuable training, and if the agency is able to have it in-house, that’s a positive.”

Though Dickey said the primary purpose for Fairfield’s potential purchase of a simulator is for decision-making skill-building, there is a marksmanship component available. And that is valuable as range time can be costly in both time and expense.

The city spends about $20,000 a year for supplies and range support, and officers have three range sessions, which includes other types of training such as policy review. The police department is planning to add a fourth session.

The purchase is set to be made via drug forfeiture money but it still needs city council’s approval. Dickey said $85,000 has been requested. The purchase is part of the city’s five-year capital improvement budget, which is expected to be approved at the end of April.

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