Sheriff's department going high tech with deputy training - Tucson News Now

Sheriff's department going high tech with deputy training

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Pima County Sheriff's Department is going high tech in deputy training. We've all seen virtual training programs that look kind of like video games, but the multi-screen, Milo Range Theater takes interactive training to an entirely new level.

The idea behind this program is to present deputies and officers with real-life situations, forcing them to make life and death decisions.

From a seemingly routine traffic stop to a disgruntled employee sitting outside of work, holding a gun, these are virtual scenarios trainees are practicing today.

And they are doing so using a brand-new, state-of-the-art tool known as Milo Range.

"These types of trainings put us into scenarios that we may encounter in reality -- and then we've already gone through them at least to a certain degree,” says Deputy Tom Peine. “It's another way of preparing ourselves for the unexpected.”

On this day, the trainee is me.

After a crash course in police commands and weapons protocol, it's time to hit the range.

"You're responding to a factory burglary...so you're in the building, clearing it,” the program administrator tells me as I enter the 300-degree multi-screen.

Surrounded by images that interact with me and my movements, I come upon the suspected burglar whose back is turned to me.

"Let me see your hands,” I say, somewhat hesitantly at first, then more pointedly. “Police -- let me see your hands!"

The suspect never turns around, nor does he present an immediate threat.

Just as he stands up and runs to my left – and off the center screen – I hear something on the opposite side of the room.

But before I'm even able to turn my head to the right, shots are fired in my direction.

Anxious and adrenaline-driven, I have no choice but to fire back.

Five times, to be exact.

"There you go,” the administrator says from the back of the room.

“You scan it. Ok…end scenario."

At this point, firearms instructor Deputy Jesse Comeau debriefs me on what went well and what needs improvement.

"That one probably hit an arm,” he says, charting my shots. “But somebody can still shoot if they got shot in the arm."

Good news is, my second shot slowed the suspect, while three and four probably killed him.

“You saw that as a lethal threat?” Comeau asks.

“I certainly did,” I said, still a bit shaken.

“I think you're right,” he said.

It's yet another tool in the department's ongoing, lethal-threat training.

And one that's already paying dividends, without burning off a single, live round.

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