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June 2012
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Paducah police officers prep for high-pressure scenarios

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

An officer pulls up to a vehicle on a routine traffic stop, but the situation becomes anything but routine when the driver steps out of the vehicle and pulls a gun.

Members of the Paducah Police Department are completing training in scenarios just like this by using a state-of-the-art MILO Range PRO training system, which allows officers to be critical thinkers in a use-of-force situation.

Use of force describes the "amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject."

Be it verbal commands, physical restraint, Taser or gun, an officer must decide how to defuse a potentially dangerous situation, and quickly.

"The demands on officers are higher than ever," said Police Chief Brandon Barnhill. "This is a high-dollar, interactive training system. It's as realistic as we can make it."

The MILO simulation system is on loan from the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) Insurance Division, at no cost to the police department. The system has more than 425 ready-to-train scenarios, all taken from real-life situations encountered by law enforcement in Texas, Georgia, Maryland and across the nation.

The department received the MILO system on July 22 and will continue its training for one more week before returning the equipment.

Approximately 30 officers have completed their training, with 20 left to go, said Training Officer Scotty Davis. Each officer will face 10 scenarios, and every officer in the department will complete the training.

"It gets your adrenaline going, but it's not a video game," Davis said. "It's an important tool. You never know what you are going to face."

The system is interactive through an instructor, who is controlling how the suspect responds to the officer in each situation.

An officer can step up to the simulator wearing his actual uniform and carrying a police-issued pistol, shotgun or rifle. The firearms are armed with lasers, however, instead of bullets.

During any shooting scenario, an officer must consider his safety, a fellow officer's safety and the safety of the general public who might be caught in the cross hairs.

"A two-year officer or a 20-year officer, it makes them think. Things can go from a normal call to a high-pressure situation really fast," said Firearms Instructor Jim Robbins.

But the system does more than allow an officer to train with firearms, he said. Through the MILO system, an officer can incorporate all of his in-house training in firearms, active shooter, Taser, defensive tactics and tactical communications/verbal Judo classes.

"We may only do two or three shooting scenarios," Robbins said, "but this also gets the officer used to giving commands."

Following any scenario, an instructor can play back an officer's performance using a video component built into the system.

"We want officers to leave here confident knowing how to talk, about use of force and knowing the law," Robbins said. "And if an officer does shoot, he has to articulate why he used his pistol."

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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