The room is dark.
The projector turns on.
A Kirksville Police officer is given a replica gun and placed in a scenario where they have two options: shoot or don’t shoot.
For about two weeks during the month of March, Kirksville Police officers participated in MILO Range training simulations, ensuring that each officer knows how to respond correctly to any given situation.
“When we have to discharge weapons on somebody, the purpose of that is to stop somebody from doing something that is either putting the officer or another person in fear of their life or severe physical injury,” Kirksville Lt. Mark Wellman said. “It’s done to stop that accident.”
During the training, an officer comes in, they’re given a replica gun, which is identical to the one they carry, they’re then placed in front of about 10 scenarios and asked to decide whether the situation needs lethal force. Instructors can also change the encounters during each scenario in order to change the outcome.
The training equipment is offered through the Missouri Sheriff’s Association. The Kirksville Police Department is a member of the association and that membership includes access to the MILO Range equipment.
Last year, the department wasn’t able to conduct the training due to equipment being unavailable. Wellman said he hopes to have access to the equipment later in the year in order to put officers through more training simulations.
“With the electronics the way they are now, we’re actually able to get some very good realism in the training that we’re doing now,” Wellman said. “We have the ability to put scenarios that are shoot situations and some that are not shooting situations.”
After the officer runs through the simulations they’re able to re-watch and evaluate how they handled the situation.
According to Wellman, police officers are required by law to ensure that the training officers receive is job relevant, meaning the training has to reflect what an officer may deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Wellman said the requirement stems from the Popaw v. the city of Margate ruling. During a foot pursuit of a suspect, a Margate police officer fired a shot as the suspect ran down a street. The officer’s shot accidentally hit and killed another man.
The court found that the officer’s training provided by the city was inadequate, since he wasn’t trained on shooting situations involving a moving target, dark conditions or firing in a residential area.
“It puts an officer in the situation that in training with live ammunition you can’t duplicate. It’s a type of training that can get an officer’s adrenaline up, which happens in a real situation. It’s job-relevant,” Wellman said. “It’s also getting them into a realistic environment and we get to see, as their instructors, how they are reacting.”