This tool is helping Fairfield police train for high-pressure situations

Fairfield debuted its newest police training tool to City Council on Jan. 22, which police Lt. Steve Maynard said will improve an officer’s ability to react to high-pressure situations.

"You have to train for the worst and hope for the best," said Maynard about the new Meggitt training simulator the city purchased for $90,000 with drug forfeiture money.

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Fairfield is the latest Butler County community to purchase a training simulator, which will allow officers to train for marksmanship tests and prepare for any scenario they could encounter. Between 800 and 1,000 scenarios are available, with dozens more to be added annually. And the department can create their own scenarios or share scenarios with other departments.

“It will expose all of our officers to scenarios in which they will have to make split-second decisions under stress, which will better prepare them for those situations if they encounter them in the real world, or while they’re on duty,” Maynard said.

And there is immediate feedback provided, including where they shoot a specific target or if they point their weapon in a dangerous direction. The system, which uses Bluetooth technology, allows officers to use a handgun, shotgun, mace or Taser.

RELATED: Fairfield Police investing in technology to make work more efficient

“It will provide the city (with) immediate feedback, and if they need training on how they responded, and what weapon they want to use,” Maynard said.

Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey said officers are trained to use the appropriate means to de-escalate a situation, and most of the time it’s not discharging a firearm.

According to a Pew Research Center study, less than one-third of officers surveyed say they fired a weapon while on the job, not including for training.

Fairfield police officers will begin using the training simulator in February, first on a quarterly basis and then transitioning to monthly training. Maynard said every officer is responsible for every bullet that comes out of his or her firearm and this “allows an officer to expand their ability to respond to situations they see in the real world.”

Mayor Steve Miller said this training tool was “money well spent” and it “gives you a better idea of what all police officers are faced with basically on a daily basis.” Eventually, citizens who sign up for the department’s Citizen Police Academy will also be able to train on the machine.

“When you see the training simulator, and you participate in it, you see these scenarios you don’t think of as a civilian, but as a police officer you could see every day,” he said. “It makes you respect what these folks do for a living.”

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