Seymour police train with FATS machine



Officers with the Seymour Police Department recently spent a week training by reacting to lifelike situations simulated through a projector screen and realistic light guns.

The FATS machine, short for Firearms Training Simulator, allowed police to train in a multitude of scenarios in which they have a split-second decision to decide whether or not to shoot perpetrators on the screen.

“It’s just a scenario-based training,” Seymour Sgt. Brandon White said. “It allows for judgmental decision-making that is done on a screen and then records those results.”
White helped train officers and operate the machine by choosing what scenarios officers would experience out of premade folders on a laptop.

Once a scenario is chosen, officers “load” their guns and watch the scene unfold from a first-person perspective on the screen. The officer who chose the scenario also had the ability to choose how it could play out in different ways and decide if they’re going to be in a situation where they need to fire their gun.

The officer also advises what commands should be used and when to radio dispatch.

The scenarios take place in a variety of settings, including workplaces, schools, courtrooms, traffic stops, off-duty situations and one where they encounter a drug cartel.

After the scenario has played out and trainees have made their decision whether or not to use their firearm, the scene replays frame by frame and officers are given guidance on their reaction to what played out in front of them. The replay shows where they were aiming and where they shot, if they fired.

The FATS machine, to White, is “role-playing with a video game” and said the intention of the training is to give exposure to all aspects of a scenario.

“They are working on what their observations are, what they are relaying in the fake radio, so to say,” he said. “I’m providing feedback to them of when they say certain things of that I respond basically as dispatch would be. It’s a totality of everything being put together in a scenario.”

Training isn’t limited to acclimating officers to environments that they could find themselves in but incorporates realistic gun training where officers have to reload their firearm throughout a scene and draw it from their holster.

On average, officers go through six scenarios during a session that typically takes one hour.

When choosing scenarios, White says he tries to pick a variety that will have officers experience different types of situations. This might include scenarios where officers shoot, don’t shoot, deescalate or use less lethal methods, like tasing, on the perpetrator.

One scenario involved an officer making a traffic stop on a truck in front of the police car while the trainee watches the scene from the passenger seat.

The officer talks with the driver outside the truck and tells him he has an outstanding warrant and will be taken to jail. As the conversation goes on, a young girl leaves the vehicle with a shotgun, pointing it alternatively at both officers and saying, “We did nothing wrong.”

While the scenario can end in different ways, one ends with the officer shot by the girl.

White said that scenario is an example of how difficult a decision can be for officers to choose when to use their firearm. He said the difference between the scenario and a situation in real life is that officers get to know who they work with and possibly their families.

“It’s a split-second decision that means life or death between you or someone else,” he said.

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