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Fort Myers police train in simulated shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios to prepare for real thing

Being a police officer is a stressful job. They never know what or who they’re going to encounter on a call. So we looked at how they prepare for dangerous scenarios.

Fort Myers Police Department shared a behind-the-scenes look at one of its training techniques.

To an officer a firearms training simulator can be the difference between life and death.

“Functions just like a regular gun,” said FMPD Lieutenant Jason Pate about the FMPD simulator. “It keeps the officers on their toes, keeps them thinking.

While a simulator cannot duplicate what Fort Myers police might see on the streets, Pate said a shoot-don’t-shoot training shows them the fine line.

“We want the officers to not only have the opportunity to shoot a target and see their accuracy and work the gun and everything else,” Pate said. “But we want them to know that not every scenario we put in front of them is a shoot scenario.”

For example, a traffic stop, every one of them is different. Pate doesn’t know how it’s going to play out.

During the training, Pate said the feelings are real.

“When it was my turn, even though I knew it wasn’t real, my stress level spiked, “Pate said.

The first go was not immediately successful.

“I fired seven times, missed six times,” Pate said. “Only once did I graze the suspect.”

And it can continue to be a challenge.

“We ran it a couple different ways of him popping out and popping back in only to get you to see how hard it was to actually get a round on a target when it’s that fast,” Pate said.

It’s not easy.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, fire arms training,” Pate said. “Even under stress, you can get misses.”

And that’s why FMPD demands its officers go through these simulations all throughout the year. On average, most Fort Myers police officers go through at least 60 hours of firearms simulator training, use of force training and range training.

“It really allows us to explore a limitless amount of scenarios and different outcomes and different scenarios or tactics we can use to get to the point where we’re not using deadly force,” Pate said.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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