Firearms training simulator puts Ohio town's residents in officers' shoes

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Residents of a small Ohio town are learning how difficult it is to make split-second shoot or don’t shoot decisions when they put themselves in the shoes of a police officer.

The police department in Jeffersonville, a community of some 45,000 people on the Ohio River, uses a firearms training simulator to teach people like Kari McGilvra what it's like to be a cop in a use of deadly force situation, the Jeffersonville Evening and Tribune reported.

McGilvra told the paper she always respected the men and women in blue, but came away with a deeper appreciation after undergoing a simulation scenario that had her responding to an argument in a parking lot.

“The whole course has built my respect more,” she said.

Members of the most recent citizens' police academy class took turns in front of the simulator while referring to recent headlines, the paper said.

In the past two weeks alone a Texas sheriff’s deputy, Darren Goforth, was ambushed and shot 15 times when he stopped for gas. Authorities said the officer was shot because of his uniform. Shannon Miles, 30, of Houston, was charged with capital murder.

Earlier this week, Fox Lake, Ill., police Lt. Charles "Joe" Gliniewicz was shot and killed after telling dispatchers he was chasing three suspicious men. His killers are still on the loose.

During the simulation, all McGilvra could see was the back of a man arguing with two women. Before she could react, the man whipped around, raised a gun and fired.

"It was nerve-racking, and then it just happened so fast there wasn't enough time to assess what was going on," McGilvra told the paper.

Other class members acted out a scenario in which they responded to a report of a burglary at a warehouse. There they confronted a man who turned out to be armed with a staple gun. Students fired either too soon or too late, but most felt using deadly force was justified in the situation, the paper said.

Instructor Lt. Glenn Jackson did so, too. He said a reasonable officer probably would have fired his or her weapon under the circumstances.