DNR system for WVU police purchased with $36,000 in grant in money

The system will save time for police who drive to gun range to practice their shooting skills

Charleston Daily Mail

MORGANTOWN — The WVU Police Department will soon be able to simulate real life shoot-or-don't-shoot scenarios on-site for training purposes.

Bids were due last week for a firearms simulation system, which Chief Bob Roberts said might also be used by other local law enforcement agencies.

He was unable to provide the submitted bids in time for this report but said such systems range from $25,000-$100,000 or more, depending on their capability.

"We've used them, so we know the benefits of them," Roberts said. "Some people are better shots than others. It will give those who have weaker skills more practice time."

The simulation system will save time, Roberts said, because officers won't have to travel to the Fairmont Road shooting range used by local law enforcement officers for training.

WVU will also save money on ammunition in the long run. The weapons used with the simulator will be the same as those used by officers in the field, but they won't shoot live rounds, Roberts said.

Lt. Tim Coleman, training officer for the state Division of Natural Resources, said the DNR has a similar system in which real weapons are used, but they've been deactivated and modified to shoot lasers onto a projection screen.

There's still recoil, however, just as if the gun had really been fired.

"You can put an officer in a real-life situation," Coleman said, citing a drug bust in which the suspects may be armed as one possible example. "You don't have to worry about anybody getting hurt, and the realism is there."

The DNR system was purchased three or four years ago with about $36,000 in grant money, Coleman said.

It's portable, so it can be taken to hunter safety events for educational use and to other agencies for officer training.

WVU police officers have used the system, Roberts said, and he hopes to purchase something similar.

According to WVU's request for proposals, the university is seeking a portable 3-D system with at least 100 scenarios, editing software to create additional scenarios, and the ability for instructors to change lighting, number of rounds and targets, etc.

Shoot-or-don't-shoot scenarios will allow police to use lesser force when necessary, such as an expandable baton or pepper spray, Roberts said.

In doing so, the system will help officers hone their decision-making skills in a safe environment.

No other law enforcement agency in Monongalia County has such a system, Roberts said, so WVU would likely share the equipment.

He hopes to have the simulator in house and ready to go by spring, though officers first will have to be trained to use it.

Copyright 2012 Charleston Newspapers


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