Tri-C eying new tech that trains officers on school shooting, hostage scenarios

Tri-C eying new tech that trains officers on school shooting, hostage scenarios
Officers train on the VirTra simulator at Tri-C's Public Safety Center.

PARMA, OH (WOIO) - The Tri-C Public Safety Center is looking at a new technology that could help train officers in tense, dangerous and volatile situations.

On Tuesday, Tri-C campus police began training with the V-300 Simulator, made by Arizona-based company VirTra.

While they have not yet purchased the model, Chief Clayton Harris says something like it is coming to Northeast Ohio.

"It's not finalized yet, but let's put it this way: if it won't be this system, it will be one just like it. So we will have it," he said.

The simulator is a large, multi-paneled display, loaded with scenarios that trainees can interact with, testing their ability to stay cool in high-pressure situations, including school shootings, hostage standoffs, and interactions with armed individuals.

A trainer sits behind a computer monitor, watching the trainee's responses to the scenario, and opting in and out of possible outcomes based on the choices they make.

"I expected it to be a little intense, a little emotional, but it's meant to pique those issues within a person, human being, or an officer so you can evaluate how they perform in the midst of a heated situation," Chief Harris said.

For this first demonstration, two Tri-C officers went through the school shooting scenario, which is a few minutes long, shot at a real high school in Arizona and featuring paid actors as students and shooters.

"Oh, it was very real," said Sgt. Stephanie Hall, who went through the training. "When you are in a situation like that, you want to make sure you don't have tunnel vision. The first thing you want to do is to remain focused and be aware of your surroundings. each step that me and my partner were making, we had to remember that there's something behind us."

Her training partner, Antwan Daniels, a patrolman for Tri-C Metro Campus, said he's glad he was there for it.

"They're always saying: 'Why did they do this, why did they do that?' It's not fair to the officers who actually went through it, so when the opportunity came for us to do it in a safe way, I was like, why not? I'll try it," said Daniels.

VirTra, the Arizona-based company that makes this particular simulator, has models ranging from $150,000 to about $300,000. Representatives for the company say the model the Public Safety Center tested out costs around $200,000.

If the model is purchased, it will be used to train officers from law enforcement agencies across Northeast Ohio, says Public Safety Center Dean Harris.

According to VirTra representatives, the company has sold about 250 systems within the United States, and another 100 internationally.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.