Campus police train with audiovisual simulator

Officers with the Central Michigan University Police Department are using audiovisual simulations to train their skills.

The MILO Range 180 Theater system was installed In January and uses interactive videos to train officers in "lifelike" situations, said Lt. Cameron Wassman.

The simulator cost roughly $90,000 and comes with hundreds of pre-loaded scenarios, Wassman said. Simulations range from target practice and traffic stops to active shooter scenarios. CMUPD can also record their own simulations for future use.

“This system helps officers make good decisions — which is one of the biggest parts of our job,” Wassman said. “We can have our officers watch training videos or send them to classrooms but it’s very rare that officers have the ability to have something that’s (similar to) real life.”

Some of the scenarios will change depending on an officer's decisions.

In a demonstration on April 10, Wassman showed some of the possible outcomes of dealing with a suspect wielding a knife. In another exercise, he navigated a dark house with a simulated flashlight.

"We never know what we're going to be encountering," Sgt. Trent Case said. "The tools that I have on me and the tools I use verbally can de-escalate situations and solve problems."

Case added that the system "brings realistic feelings" to training.

"Even though it's video based and prerecorded — what I do will have an effect on the outcome," he said.

Wassman said the situations feel real and so does the equipment. Officers use modified firearms equipped with infrared lasers and compressed gas canisters to mimic the recoil of a real handgun.

CMUPD is also working to collaborate with area law enforcement to utilize the training, Wassman said. While the training simulator deals with serious situations, Wassman added that it's also enjoyable.

"It's fun," he said. "The realism is not only practical, it's fun too."