Champaign Officers Train Through Grant-Funded Simulator
By Jeff Bossert
A federal grant will allow Champaign police officers to gain some practical training without a lot of help.
A nearly $50,000 federal grant will allow the city to purchase a firearms and use of force simulator. Police Lieutenant Jim Clark says the device is much like a video game on a 14-foot TV screen.
"The way it is now, we have to have officers in order to do scenario-based training, it's a big ordeal," he said. "It takes months of planning, and we have officers go out for an entire day to run through scenarios. Now we'll able to do this for 10 or 15 minutes on shift."
Clark says the machine has hundreds of different scenarios, using firearms, batons, flashlights, and verbal commands. Officers will still use an outdoor firing range, but unlike other labor-intensive exercises, he says the simulator will only require one instructor.
"The company uses real actors to film these various scenarios," Clark said. "But the nice part is the instructor at the computer terminal can control the outcome or scenario. So if the officer is going through the scenario, and he's using the proper verbal commands and he's saying the right things, the instructor can have it turn out as a positive outcome. If he officer is not using the correct verbal commands, the instructor has the ability to control where the video goes."
The Champaign City Council agreed to the purchase of the simulator Tuesday night, using the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. Champaign Police expect to have the simulator within the next month.
Urbana purchased a simulator of its own two years ago.