There are a lot of things that can go wrong during a felony traffic stop, and one of them did go wrong last night at the Dalton Police Department. As the driver stepped out of his car, arms in the air, he obeyed commands to back up slowly. That is, until he stopped and reached for his gun, forcing an officer to make a decision whether to open fire.
Fortunately, this wasn't a real-world situation. Instead, it was simulated with the department's Firearms Training Simulator (FATS) for members of the Dalton Police Department's Citizens Police Academy. Academy participants met for their final class Tuesday night, dealing with the use of force by law enforcement. Rather than just learn about the laws and policies that govern the use of force, participants also got a chance to put that knowledge to work on the simulator.
After a brief talk by Lt. Chris Crossen about Georgia law and also Supreme Court case law dealing with the use of force by law enforcement, participants were taken in two groups to the FATS room where they stepped into an officer's shoes and tried to work their way through several different law enforcement scenarios. Each scenario plays out in video projected onto a screen on one wall of the room. The "officer" is armed with a simulated handgun, identical to those used by DPD officers, which fires a laser that can be detected by the machine to determine if the "officers" have hit their targets. The scenario is controlled by a training officer on a computer. The training officer tells the computer whether to have the characters on screen cooperate with the user's commands, or whether the machine should have the situation take a turn for the worse, as in the case of the felony traffic stop.
While one group of academy participants tried out the FATS machine, the other half of the class learned about the Tasers carried by DPD officers. Lt. Mike Wilson, one of the DPD's Taser instructors, taught how the devices work to incapacitate offenders through neuromuscular control. Rather than simply causing an offender pain and hoping it causes them to stop and cooperate with law enforcement, the Taser fires an electrical pulse identical to the impulses in the nervous system and causes all muscles impacted by the device's current to lock up.
Click here to see a photo gallery from Tuesday night's class on the DPD Facebook page. Click "play" in the window below to watch video from last night's class.