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Interactive Program Helping Law Enforcement Officials Prep For Split-Second Decisions

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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GREENSBURG (KDKA) — There have been a number of police-involved shootings in our area lately. Officers say it’s never an easy decision and they only use that type of force when absolutely necessary.

It’s one of the toughest decisions a police officer can encounter, to shoot or not to shoot when their own life is at stake.

KDKA’s Trina Orlando recently went to the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office to get a firsthand look at the training law enforcement goes through to prepare for those split-second decisions.

It looks like an interactive video game, but it’s really advanced training that the Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputies are using to prepare for life or death situations.

It’s called “Laser Shot.” The sheriff’s office purchased it with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

It simulates more than 300 potentially dangerous scenarios on a movie screen, and the deputies must react. They can use verbal commands as well as lethal and non-lethal force.

Another deputy running the computer controls the outcome based on how the deputy-in-training handles the situation.

“It’s not completely real, nothing is quite as dramatic as a real-life scenario, but it gives you an idea of what can happen in field,” Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held says.

From domestic violence scenarios to courtroom outbursts to school shootings, the deputies practice it all.

After a deputy finishes a scenario, he can go back, watch it and learn from his mistakes.

The sheriff’s office is now making arrangements with municipal police departments across the county to use the training system as well.

“We’ve extended the offer for them to use it,” says Held.

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