Inside the Gates: Training to use force
There's been a lot of discussion about how police officers around the nation use force and how they train for dangerous situations, often requiring quick judgment calls.
On Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, security forces have been using a new high-tech training system since the spring. It’s called MILO -- Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives.
A computer connects to five projectors, which display images on five screens, connected in a half-circle. The trainee stands in the middle of the circle, responding to the situation unfolding on screen. The training instructor can choose what happens next, based on how the trainee reacts.
This allows security forces officers, like Tech Sgt. Jose Ramirez, to confront a situation he's never faced in real life.
In the scenario, a man threatening a downed police officer with a hammer. As the video unfolds, the man moves to strike the officer. Ramirez fires his weapon, a gun with a laser, which triggers sensors on the screen. The attacker goes down. Ramirez said in this case, deadly force was justified because it was the only way to save the officer.
“I've never actually had to engage anybody in real life but in this case, I knew I was in the right,” he said.
It's rare officers have to make these split-second decisions, which is why this kind of training is so valuable, according to instructor Scott Gardener.
"In real life, there are no do-overs,” said Gardener. "We can't respond, we can't [go] back through the scenario again. Here we can, we can take advantage of that."
Gardener is the one deciding what happens next in each scenario. If the officer does everything right, he can decide to de-escalate the situation.
"I can make that subject comply, I can make him attack, I can make him keep resisting, do different things that was designed in the video,” said Gardener.
Even if the officer responds “by the book”, Gardener can have the situation escalate, as it might in real life. It’s all part of the training, which teaches officers to stay focused on what’s happening around them.
“If they fail, if they don't do the right thing, I'd rather have them do it now than later because down the road, it could cost them their life, the other person's life or an innocent bystander's life,” said Gardener.
JBER security forces aren't the only ones using MILO. Gardener says the Department of Homeland Security, the Alaska National Guard and Department of Corrections have all brought in officers to train on MILO. They're in talks with other agencies like APD to use it as well.