Lewes Police Department Hosts Use of Force Simulator Training - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Lewes Police Department Hosts Use of Force Simulator Training

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LEWES, Del.- Members of the public were given the chance to virtually walk in a police officer's shoes during a Use of Force Simulation Training on Wednesday.

The Lewes Police Foundation and Law Enforcement Legal Defense fund helped put on the simulator where participants went through real life scenarios and had to decide in real time whether using a weapon was reasonable. Scenarios included responding to an agitated robbery suspect, a family fight, and reports of teenagers in the woods with weapons. 

The speed and stress in which the situations escalated were eye opening for participants, including elected officials, reporters, and members of the public. 

"When you see it up close and you have to be in that situation, it really brings it to life," explains Glen Shaffer, manager of Lewes Cycle Sports. "It hits home."

The simulator made clear how quickly a confrontation can turn deadly, and also how tough it  can be to make a decision in chaotic surroundings. Officers also pointed out how they are always scanning the scene for potential threats (many that participants didn't even notice), and how using a person's name and having a conversation can help de-escalate situations.

Organizers say Shaffer's experience is one of the reasons why they bring the simulator training to local departments across the area.

"There's a lot of mythology around police involved incidents particularly situations in which a police officer uses deadly force--a police shooting--and we try to myth bust," says LELDF President Jason Johnson. "W try to bring members of the community, members of the media, elected officials, decision makers and others to kind of show what the myth is and show why the myth isn't true and demonstrate that through experiential learning; by putting our participants through the actual scenario and having them understand why what they maybe had been led to believe in the past isn't exactly true. It's much different when you really are involved."

Lewes Police Chief Thomas Spell says the training helped the public better understand what officers can face while protecting the community.

"You see what you see on TV; it's not actually real world scenarios or real world experiences," he says. "Today just kind of moved that pendulum a little bit more towards the center, I think."

Lewes Police Foundation co-founder Dan DiSimone says that's a win for everyone.

"[In my experience] being 28 years in law enforcement, whenever the police department and its community are doing things together, it's a better outcome for everyone."

For more on the simulator training, visit the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund's website.

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