Northwestern College Featured Law Enforcement Training Simulator
[Bridgeview, IL] On Thursday, July 5th, Northwestern College hosted a law enforcement training exercise that included a firearms simulator. Nearly 100 Northwestern College students were able to test their skills and challenge their minds using the same training exercise used by local police departments. The simulator was available on the College’s Bridgeview Campus for ten hours, with students getting the opportunity to both directly participate (in the role of “police officer”) as well as observe from a control room as other students participated.
PRISim, a law enforcement advanced simulator of Advanced Interactive Systems (AIS), is a mobile trailer with a theater-like environment, including a large screen. It includes a control room where an instructor controls the interactive program, maintaining the ability to alter a scenario based on a student’s actions and reactions. Before the scenario begins, the student is given a basic set-up of what to expect (fight, domestic disturbance, man with a gun, suspicious noises). Students then utilize simulator guns that project laser beams and take cover behind two separate barriers as they react to a suspect’s movements through the scenes, including the presentation of a firearm which can be aimed and shot at the officer (student).
The simulator, which is designed to test student judgment and not their firearms ability, also tests a student’s reaction skills during various scenarios. Each scenario spans from just 1 minute to 3-4 minutes and displays a suspect in a moving environment. The simulator includes a sound system that makes the student feel as if they are experiencing a real event. Immediately following the scenario, the recorded event is played back - including footage of the student’s actions - which allows the instructor to identify step by step for the student what they did right and wrong during the simulation. The exercise requires the students to justify their actions and explain why they reacted the way they did.
Hundreds of scenarios are pre-programmed for use in the PRISim system, each designed to familiarize the student with possible situations that an officer may find themself in. There are scenes where a suspect comes at the students (role-playing as police officers) with a drawn weapon, or what appears to be a weapon. Other scenarios might include a disabled car at the side of the road whereby the officer approaches, only to find armed inhabitants; the approach of an officer to a suspect breaking into a car; or the dispatch to an office building where an active shooting was taking place. The purpose of the exercises is to get students to think about what they should do and how they should react to diffuse a situation or protect innocent victims.
These exercises though, are more than just an advanced video game, for the suspect also shoots at the participants (controlled by the instructor) to better simulate what happens when mistakes are made, or when the officer fails to take cover in volatile situations. “Bullets” that propel at the students during the simulation are in fact hard nylon balls shot from a cannon above the screen and are synchronized with the offender’s movements. These projectiles are enough to give the students motivation to get behind the cover.
The scenarios the students go through are highly stressful until they become accustomed to it, but are designed to allow the students to feel the kind of stress they would feel if they were on the job as a law enforcement officer. Many times the student goes through the same scenario 2-3 times, with different outcomes based on their own responses. However, each scenario comes to an abrupt end when the officer either attains control over the situation or if either the suspect or the officer is shot.
This year’s simulation was overseen by Sergeant Daniel Vittorio of the Oak Lawn Police Department, with the assistance of Sergeant Craig Sline of the Homewood Police Department. One Sergeant manned the control room of the simulator and altered the scenarios to reflect student responses while the other Sergeant worked with the students as they participated in the simulation. The PRISim Simulator is utilized by multiple law enforcement agencies for conducting training for officers, traveling between 40 law enforcement agencies in the south suburban area.
About Northwestern College:
Northwestern College (NC) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, www.ncahlc.org. The college offers focused career-oriented associate degree and certificate programs with flexible schedules and a supportive faculty. Day, evening, weekend, online classes and online programs are available with campuses in Chicago, Bridgeview, and Naperville. More information can be found at www.northwesterncollege.edu or by calling toll-free (888) 205-2283.