IMPD trains for life-or-death decision making with scenario simulator

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2015)-- Eight times since the beginning of 2014, IMPD officers have made fatal life and death decisions. The most recent incident was Monday night when a patrolman shot at a car bearing down on him in the 4100 block of North Grant Avenue.

No one was injured and a drunk driver was arrested with three other people, including an 8-year-old child, in the car.

Last month an armed and fleeing felon who wrestled with an officer on the east side for his gun lost that fight.

Inside the simulation room at the IMPD Training Academy, officers and recruits are taught to put all their training and awareness and experience to the test in viewing video scenarios that can often portray fatal results.

"The chances of an officer shooting his gun in the line of duty is fairly low," said Ptl. Mike Daley, an academy firearms instructor. "The chances of an officer having to use force on somebody are very very high. When an officer arrests somebody people often don't cooperate in going to jail."

Daley, who holds a law degree, said an officer must recall a myriad of laws and training in the split-second he or she must decide whether or not to shoot.

"Use all the law that you have been taught in specific United States Supreme Court cases and how it relates to your use of force," he said. "Make good decisions in the selection of use of force. Remember all the tools that you have available to you. Include all the weapons on your belt but also include your verbalization skills, your positioning and your demeanor. Remember your tactics as we train you as to whether or not to use cover or concealment to place yourself, ask for back up, and make appropriate decisions through those avenues."

After every police action shooting, even when no one is injured, an officer is placed on restricted duty while an internal review, and sometimes a grand jury investigation, is completed.

"If it takes longer than four to five seconds, chances are our officer is going to survive," said Daley. "It's those initial gunfights right off the bat where we tend to lose. An officer gets blindsided, sucker punched."

This reporter has engaged in four scenarios in the Academy's simulation room. Twice I was too late on the draw and would have died. Twice I shot the armed suspect. At least one civilian died at the hand of the video gunman because I fired too late leading me to conclude it's not as easy as it looks, or as it appears in hindsight and second guessing.