Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wakefield post now have access to a more comprehensive training simulator.
On loan from the Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Office, the VirTra simulator features true to life scenarios. Equipped with real guns that have been outfitted with CO2 clips instead of bullets, troopers realistically interact with actors on the screen.
“It’s excellent training for the street level law enforcement officer,” Trooper Bill Witt said. “It provides a number of different scenarios that a patrol officer may encounter while working any particular day or any particular night.”
What really sets the system apart from regular training regiments is its evolutionary nature.
“As the officers interact with it the person that’s being the administrator for the system can actually change the course of the scenario depending on how they talk with the role players in the scenario,” Sgt. Glenn Gauthier said. “So, if the officer does something right, it will progress in a positive manner; if not, it could possibly escalate or become a hostile situation in the scenario.”
The benefit of a simulator like this is that there’s no predetermined outcome. Scenarios are driven by troopers’ actions and decisions and they could progress and end in any number of ways.
“It’s the most realistic training that we can offer our law enforcement officers in the area,” Sgt. Gauthier said. “It’s much better than going out to the range and shooting paper targets because we’ve actually engaged the officer to make decisions and those decisions have consequences in the scenario so it’s a valuable training resource.”
While many of the scenarios result in lethal force, there are just as many that don’t.
“Quite a few of the scenarios involved de-escalating the situation using verbal commands; using other training we have, other tools we have at our disposal,” Trooper Witt said.
The simulator tests everything from a trooper’s experience, to marksmanship and judgment skills. While this was the first time the Wakefield Post utilized the VirTra system, they’re ready to make it a regular part of their training.
“We’re just grateful to have this opportunity to have this training available for us up here in the western Upper Peninsula, and we will be continuing this training in the future,” Trooper Witt said.
“This is the first time that we’ve been able to utilize this resource,” Sgt. Gauthier said. “We’re looking forward to making this a quarterly training, that we could do this quarterly each year and offer this out to other area law enforcement agencies so that they can benefit from this resource as well.”