Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, August 28, 2017

Police Division's new Use of Force Simulator demonstrated for officials

Officer Andrew Crawford interacts with an emotionally
disturbed person in Friday afternoon's simulation.

Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp was joined by several Council members and senior city officials as Police Director Carl Riley unveiled the city's new "use of force simulator" Friday afternoon in a live demonstration at Police Headquarters.

Police officers, who are sworn to serve and protect Plainfield residents, are -- as officers of the law -- allowed to use deadly force when deemed necessary.

How to judge when or whether to use deadly force is part of the training of every police officer.

The new simulator, purchased with a federal grant and only the second in Union County (the first is at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains), will help officers continue to review, critique, and improve their skills in "use of force" scenarios that are likely to develop in a nanosecond as an officer answers a call or confronts a volatile situation.

The simulator can call up 700 scenarios -- from a domestic violence incident to a suspicious person in the neighborhood, from a person in a locked business after hours to an emotionlly disturbed individual - and interactively play them out to a resolution.

Though the officer had to use deadly force in two of the scenarios we witnessed, one was resolved without gunplay.

Three volunteers from among the officials gained a new appreciation of the amount of information the officer must appraise at a second's glance to make a "use of force" decision and what level might be required.

In his remarks,Mayor Mapp said, "[T]his program demonstrates the commitment of my administration to investing in the technology, investing in our officers and making sure they are as prepared as possible to better protect and serve the public".

While supervisors will evaluate officers on a random basis, pulling them in off the street to take part in one or two simulations, the Division will keep full records on each officer as to what scenarios they have been through, the evaluation by the supervisor and the officer, and any improvements that need to be made.

Director Riley also pointed out that the program was portable and could be taken out to community events. I could see this being very useful with students in school settings and at community events such as National Night Out and SID events -- especially if the young people are given an opportunity to participate.

This is an extremely valuable addition to the Division's resources for promoting professionalism and effectiveness.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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