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Gainesville Police training on shooting simulator
Equipment puts officers in shoot or don't-shoot situations
Gainesville Police Department's new shooting simuator uses special weapons that are fitted with lasers to record the movements of their weapons.

After pulling over a suspected drunk driver, Gainesville Police Officer Griggs Wall tells the man to stay in the car to no avail.

“Take your hands out of your pocket,” Wall says in nine iterations.

Then the driver draws his weapon and gunshots are heard, all before the simulator stops and Wall holsters his weapon.

Gainesville Police are using a training simulator set up in the city’s administrative building to replicate scenarios encountered in the field.

“We can outfit the officer with pretty much what they carry on the street and put them in those judgmental pistol-shooting scenarios and see what they’re thinking, see if they’re complying with Gainesville Police Department policy and also complying with Georgia state law on the use of force,” Officer Doug Whiddon said.

On the first round with the suspected drunk driver, Wall’s commands were enough to get the driver to show his hands without force. But Whiddon changed the second scenario to have the driver shoot at Wall.

After firing, the driver ducked behind the car to continue shooting before running away.

“That would be justified under Georgia law,” Whiddon said of Wall’s shot when the suspect fled. “Obviously, he’s been shooting at the officer. There’s no doubt in his mind he still has the weapon in his hand.”

Chief Carol Martin said the department was second in line to get the system behind the Atlanta Police Department. All of the uniformed officers have been through the simulator, Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said.

The room has a projector and a screen spanning most of the wall’s length. Whiddon sits behind the projector and a set of computer monitors, where he can control the simulation.

The simulator allows the department to work in a controlled environment, with laser-tracking on the the gun’s muzzle.

“We’re not burning up ammo,” Whiddon said.

Wall’s first demonstration of the day was on a simulated shooting range with 25-yard targets. After firing with the simulator’s gun, Wall can see where his muzzle pointed before and after his shot.

Wall said the simulator gets the heart rate up, being the closest possible experience compared to reality. The simulator also offers a number of domestic-violence simulations, the calls that are always considered the most dangerous for law enforcement.

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