on November 14, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Going a mile with someone else’s badge

Going a mile with someone else’s badge

There are reports of a shooter at the police department.

Division chief Dave Pickett and Officer Brian Wilkinson respond to the call, and find several officers down in the hallway, and the sound of gunfire.

Pickett and Wilkinson take down one suspect, and then shot another when he leaps out from a door.

And then the lights come on.

Students from the Wheat Ridge Citizen’s Police Academy give a round of applause to the two officers, and then it’s their turn.

The scenario is just one of dozens of virtual reality simulations used by police in the training of their officers, and for the class of 2016 Citizen’s Police Academy students, it’s an opportunity to get an idea of the situations officers have to face.

“Going through these simulations shows how fast things develop, and what can happen,” said Academy student Larry Harper. “It really helps to see what our officers go through.”

The Citizen’s Police Academy course is a free 12-week course that meets once a week hosted once a year by the police department. Participants get to learn about every aspect of a police officer’s job, from traffic and crime scene analysis to firearm safety and use of force.

“The academy is for anyone who lives or works in Wheat Ridge and wants to know what the police department does, and why it does it,” explained Pickett. “All people need to participate is a sense of curiosity.”

The members of this year’s class are mostly driven by the sense of curiosity Pickett mentioned, as well as a sense of empathy.

“I love education, and am very interested in the Wheat Ridge community,” said resident Mary Stobie. “I’ve really enjoyed learning what’s really happening in the community.”

The simulation training on Nov. 2 was the penultimate meeting of the academy, and was an opportunity to delve into the complexity of intense situations.

As officer Larry Taggart explained it to students before starting, the simulations are not as simple as shoot or don’t shoot. The simulations will change depending on how they’re handled, and so the first option is always to deescalate a situation and find a peaceful option before resorting to force. With all the recent national attention on use of force by police, this warning takes on added weight.

“The only reason for using deadly physical force is to prevent serious bodily injury and death,” he said. “After each scenario is over, we’ll be asking questions that force participants to think about what happened, and justify their decisions.”

Police officers go through months and months of training before they’re on the street, so Pickett emphasized to academy members the simulator just provides a sample of the training and scenarios officers face every day.

And for many members, that was real enough.

“It felt like being thrown into a situation where you don’t know what’s happening,” said Academy member Mary Margaret Coates. “It was unsettling.”

The department hopes Academy students come away with a greater sense of understanding and appreciation for its officers.

“The feedback we often get is people saying they had no idea how complex the job is,” Pickett said. “We want people to get an idea of what our officers do for them as part of their job every day.”

Golden Transcript – Latest Stories

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are disabled.