SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Police Department (SPD) is giving WSAV News 3 a closer look into their training on how to handle situations where they may have to use force. It’s something they have to be prepared for on every call.
The department uses simulation training. WSAV News 3’s Ricardo Lewis got a glimpse at what they face in the real world. News 3 learned that a man may not initially look like a threat, but things can change in an instant.
Our reporter tried to learn what the man was doing in the simulation training, and in the end, it led to him pulling out a gun and shooting.
“Our officers are going through these situations, these incidents, and it’s not a simulation so what does goes through our mind? Just imagine what you went through during that simulation and amplify that,” Training Supervisor, Sgt. Brian Smith said.
Reporters went through three simulations and News 3 participated in two. One showed a man who seemed to have had too much to drink and a domestic violence situation. Both men in the simulations had guns. One was visible and the other was out of sight but both times our reporter failed.
“Luckily for you, we can restart the scenarios, change the scenarios, but on a daily basis, our officers depend on the information that’s given to them at the scene,” said Michelle Halford, Training, Recruiting and Accreditation with SPD.
In Georgia, police officers go through training at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.
The simulator helps them identify when force can be used.
“As the world changes we adapt as well too and we try to better tailor to be able to fit the needs of the community,” Smith said.
Around the country, police officers are being watched closely after high-profile deadly incidents.
“We discuss the situations that happen around. And we don’t like to quarterback another police department but we do take those and make changes based on what we see,” Halford said.
SPD officers are watching as well and considering them as lessons learned.
“Please keep in mind that we’re all normal folk too. We are just given this opportunity and this privilege to further enhance our abilities to serve and protect the community,” Smith said.
After the police academy, SPD officers continue to build on their skills. Each officer is required to put in more than 20 hours of instruction every year.