- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department is getting a virtual firearms simulator that will put deputies close to dangerous situations without actually placing them in the line of fire.

The Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/1qqvy2T ) reports that the department has partnered with Northeast Iowa Community College to purchase an immersive simulator from Arizona-based VirTra.

It will cost between $350,000 and $420,000. The sheriff’s department and the college will contribute up to $170,000 each, and $80,000 in state funding is also available.

Sheriff Don Vrotsos said the device will be installed at the college’s Dubuque campus in a few months.

Ric Jones, business and community solutions program manager at the community college, said that the partnership will give aspiring law enforcement students opportunities to gain experience.

While using the device, an officer is surrounded by five projection screens that can play 150 firearm-related scenarios. The display simulates encounters with domestic standoffs, drive-by shootings and active shooters. Officers using the simulator are armed with training guns and fitted with clip-on packs that shock them to indicate when a suspect has “shot” or “injured” them.

“It’s important that we have as real-life training as possible to make our officers better when they are confronted with a bad situation,” Vrotsos said.

Law enforcement subject matter expert for VirTra, Mike Duke, said he designs situations taken from real-life experiences.

“Your stress level gets up there, so you want to re-create that and make those mistakes inside the simulator so you don’t have to worry about making those same mistakes out there on the street,” Duke said.

Vrotsos also said that the realistic practice will help officers learn how to react in stressful situations.

“It’s going to give our officers a basis to make sound decisions and correct decisions if they ever come into a situation like we’re dealing with in these scenarios,” Vrotsos said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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