METNWS-0-03-20 SHAWNEE SIMULATOR - PHOTO

A Shawnee Community College student in the school’s criminal justice program is silhouetted using the new policing simulator, which helps provide real-world training opportunities.

Training for law enforcement is vital to prepare the next generation to provide the safest, most community-oriented policing environment possible.

Officer Eric Howard, Shawnee Community College criminal justice instructor, takes that responsibility seriously.

“I have been in law enforcement for many years, and have seen policing change throughout my career,” Howard said.

“There’s no question we must provide the latest and most innovative programs and equipment available if we are to maintain public safety in our communities.”

Concern for law enforcement students and the people they serve prompted Howard to obtain grant funding for a new simulator at Shawnee College.

Until recently, training simulators seemed to be out of reach for local community colleges. The cost alone made it difficult to justify, however, with technology advancements allowing for better equipment at a lower price to be produced the time was right for SCC to purchase the equipment needed to better assist in criminal justice training for their students.

Law enforcement training simulators like the one obtained by Shawnee College help engulf students in real-world situations for training purposes. Simulators surround the student/trainee with realistic distractions, including street noises, dogs barking, construction noise, doors opening, and many other sensory distractions to help students learn to focus on policing in real-world environments.

The new simulator includes options for firearms training and the use other means such as pepper spray and taser training. In addition to student use, Howard envisions partnering with local policing and public safety agencies to offer them additional training opportunities for their staff.

Howard hopes that by incorporating simulator training, Shawnee College will produce graduates better equipped for serving their communities effectively.

“The simulator is an additional tool to help our students and local law enforcement officers become increasingly more vigilant to their surroundings. The user is placed in scenarios where they are expected to perform under stress and produce a trained response.

“Simulators assist in developing muscle memory, improved critical decision making, including techniques that assist with best practices for deescalating volatile situations, and keeping our communities safe,” he said.

In addition to preloaded scenarios, the new simulator allows the college staff to generate unique scenarios for specific training purposes necessary in the local community. The simulator can record a student’s responses, and instructors can review the results with the student to determine what improvements can be made through self-assessment and instructor feedback.

For more information about the SCCs Criminal Justice Program, admissions and registration, visit shawneecc.edu or call 618-634-3200.

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