SPECIAL REPORT: To Shoot or Not to Shoot

SPECIAL REPORT: To Shoot or Not to Shoot

By: Alexa Williams
NewsWest 9

Law enforcement across the country have been under the microscope. Many often questioning when deadly force should or shouldn't be used.

But most people here in West Texas might not know that our officers have a special simulator to train them on just that.

"The shooting simulator we have here has been here for about two years. We use it for training response to resistance for our regional officer, our academy officers, and our local officers," Brian Rackow, Lieutenant with the Midland Police Department, said.

The Midland Police Department useswhat'ss called a shoot don't shoot simulator. It's virtual and it puts officers in different real life scenario's.

The goal? To teach law enforcement when they should use non-lethal force like their hands, pepper spray or a baton and when they should have their guns drawn and their finger on the trigger.

"It's quick to set up, the scenarios aren't very long, and if there is an issue with the officers response to resistance we are able to correct that and get a good and positive training experience out of it," Rackow said

Legally officers are trained on a continuum of force.

"The easiest way to explain it is it's in latter format and we get to go one step higher than what the suspects uses in their resistance," Rackow explained

For example, if someone is resisting arrest by sitting on their hands an officer can go one level higher by using pressure points are even by striking them to get them to comply.

"We don't train to kill people. We train to stop the threat. Whether that threat is to us or to another person," Rackow said.

At home it's easy to sit back and think an officer made a wrong decision. But until we're put in those situations ourselves the decision isn't as easy as you think. So I gave it a go myself.

At first it was easy. Then they put me in real life scenarios and I had to decide what to do. Whether it was using pepper spray, a baton, or my hands, I had to act fast and not break the law.

At the end of each situation the officers told me what I did right, and what I did wrong.

"Sometimes the worse thing you can do is not make a decision and you're still making a decision that way," Rackow said.

I eventually did have to use deadly force (virtually anyway). Officers are trained to aim for center mass.

"Sometimes those deadly force situations happen so quickly that emotion your asking about might not even register for days before it finally comes back and hits you." Rackow said.

Our West Texas officers train using the shooting simulator, and other tactics weekly. Keeping them always prepared for the unthinkable. It's easy to say what we think we would do in a heart pounding situation, but it's easier said then done.