Training simulator provides real-world situations for Lea County sheriffs

New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – There’s more scrutiny than ever on law enforcement these days. With split-second decisions that can be the difference between life and death, a New Mexico sheriff’s department is turning to a training simulator to avoid mistakes out in the field.

“That’s what we are facing today and these deputies get out of their units every day wondering if this is, this is going to be the one that puts us in the spotlight,” said Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton.

Helton says that’s exactly why his department order a state-of-the-art simulator and retrofitted a training room specifically for it. “We can make it where the guy’s compliant, we can make it where he’s verbally non-compliant, or passively aggressive,” said Helton.

The simulator allows the deputy doing the training to determine the outcome by his actions. If the deputy draw his firearm too early, that can provoke the suspect and change the outcome. They can also see what happens if they’re too indecisive. “How can it be dangerous? What if he’s scared to act, what if he’s actually in a situation where life and death is at hand, and he fails to act,” Helton said.

Deputies use their real weapons in the simulator which provides hundreds of realistic situations from a suicidal subject, school shootings, and dog attacks. “Just give them that real-world training with that critical thinking makes them better, and makes this office better, and gives us the ability to provide a professional law enforcement service to our communities here so, it’s a win-win for everybody,” Helton said.

The Lea County Sheriff says in the future he’d like to invite community members and critics in to try out the simulator for themselves.

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