Simulator helps police sharpen decision-making skills


CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — When police are faced with a potential life-or-death situation, they usually have only mere seconds to act.

To make sure its officers are well-trained for those types of scenarios, the Cranston Police Department and city officials on Tuesday unveiled their new firearm training simulator. It’s like a realistic video game, walking officers through a situation where anything can happen.

“We only have one chance to get it right and we have to make the decision extremely quickly,” Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist said.

They aren’t real guns and it’s not a real situation, but to those undergoing the training – it feels real.

“These scenarios present the real-time, live scenarios that many of our officers encounter and face on a daily basis,” Cranston Mayor Allan Fung said.

The simulator will be used as a full-time training tool, and not just for police officers. It will also be used during citizens academies so city residents can see what officers go through.

Fung, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin tried their hand at the simulator on Tuesday. Kilmartin said he plans to have his prosecutors take part in the training to help them better understand cases.

“Now with a better understanding, a better training, more education, they will make a better, more informed decision as to whether an officer is justified in a shooting or not,” Kilmartin explained.

Bringing the simulator to Cranston cost $63,000, half of which came from a legislative grant and the rest came from the city.

“A better-trained officer enhances that process, enhances the relationship between the citizens and the department that’s working so hard to keep them safe,” said Mattiello.

Police on Tuesday also showed off a new protection installed in their cars to help against an ambush. If an officer is parked in a cruiser and someone walks behind the vehicle, that person will be picked up by sensors and the cruiser’s doors will automatically lock and the windows immediately roll up.

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