Walters State new firearm training simulator to improve decision-making skills for police recruits


GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) A new lab simulator at Walters State Community College is helping take police training to another level.

The community college recently made a purchase to improve its firearm simulation training.

News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun explained how this will make for a smoother transition for new law enforcement officers.

“They have to get used to the speed of the encounters. They’re very fast,” Walters State Community College police academy director, Jeff Gazzo said.

Walters State Community College’s new firearm training simulator is designed to allow new law enforcement recruits learn how to deescalate situations, and learn when to use reasonable force.

“For them to use those functions within a correct application of force, inside of a legal framework and make them understand that those decisions have to be made in sometimes a compressed time frame. It’s probably the most difficult thing to teach,” Gazzo said.

The program has 300 scenarios with about 700 outcomes for trainees to experience.

“Their score sheet is very detailed and is broken down into individual items that we want to see them correctly perform. They’ll also need to be able to tell us what justifies them an illegal framework and a policy framework to be able to do whatever it is that they decided to do to resolve the situation,” Gazzo added.

Agencies from across the state of Tennessee send recruits for nine weeks to Walters State. Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol and Vanderbilt are just a few police departments that have sent police recruits to Walters State for training. The City of Tusculum Police Department recently sent a few of theirs.

City of Tusculum Police Department, Chief Danny Greene said, “Use of force is always a big concern right now. We’ve been tailoring the use of force to constitutional standards. Adapting those standards to how we teach and train, rather than one size fits all.”

Tusculum Police Department Chief Danny Greene said the class also puts an emphasis on learning constitutional law.

Chief Greene added, “At the end of the day, when you raise your right hand, it says you’re a defender of the constitution of the United States. We think that’s important that if you’re going to defend it you ought to know it. You should know it and what it protects and it protects the citizens and it also protects the officers.”

Certain Supreme Court cases that are taught in the course are Graham v. Connor, Tennessee v. Garner and Terry v. Ohio.

The upcoming class starts on January 25, 2021. Sixty-three recruits are registered for the 9-week course. Once the course is completed, the graduates will return to their respective agencies for further training.

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