Fairfield police to train on new shooting simulator

Last weekend’s Cameo Night Club shooting, where 17 people were shot, one died and hundreds were scrambling for safety, reinforces the need of an officer’s ability to de-escalate a chaotic situation, at least one Butler County police department says .

That is just the latest example of why the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has placed an emphasis on improving police training in the past few years, including in 2015 where Attorney General Mike DeWine moved to impose new police training standards and increased training hours.

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While the city of Fairfield isn’t planning to purchase a training simulator because of the Cincinnati shooting, Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey said, “Given what’s going on with our country today, we want our people to be the best-equipped in de-escalating scenarios. This would put officers in as close to a real world situation as you can.”

Knowing what to do in high-pressure and potentially dangerous police situations requires what Dickey calls “muscle memory,” which is why the department is pursuing the purchase of the training simulator, which allows law enforcement to train on difference possible interactions with the public, which could end peacefully or in a shootout.

“You prepare to be ready for any eventuality,” said Dickey. “But as (‘Art of War’ author) Sun Tzu wrote, ‘No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.’”

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West Chester Police Department purchased its own training simulator in 2015. West Chester Police Capt. Jamie Hensley said the added training is invaluable.

“It can’t replace our live fire training, but it gives our officers more real life scenario training,” he said.

West Chester’s simulator offers more than 1000 scenarios, including active shooter incidents, and Hensley said they can even add unique scenario is specific to West Chester Twp.

And in light of the Cincinnati nightclub shooting, as well as all the other shooting incidents across the country, “It’s definitely something you want to prepare for it and put officers in more realistic scenarios.”

Fairfield officers will train on the simulator monthly in order to improve their decision-making, but what this simulator is not designed for improving an officer’s marksmanship.

“We’re buying this to improve an officer’s decision-making skills in critical situations,” he said.

Dickey said there will be a couple vendors coming into the city next month to demonstrate their products, and though the purchase will be made via drug forfeiture money it still needs city council’s approval. 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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