ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office said it wants to make sure its deputies are better prepared for just about anything they will encounter. Before anyone can put on a uniform, they have to pass a number of tests and undergo intense training.
On Tuesday, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office showed us exactly what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Trainees and the media first hit the road for precise driving lessons.
“It’s a low speed precision course where we are really emphasizing your precision and handling of the vehicle,” said SSgt. Todd Owens with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s a course that allows deputies to practice operating a fully equipped vehicle in tight quarters.
Then, training went indoors. That’s where practice was held on the Anderson County Sheriffs’ new, state-of-the-art simulator, VirTra.
“We are very excited about it because this takes training to a whole new level,” explained Sheriff Chad McBride.
VirTra is the latest addition to the sheriff’s office. It creates real-life scenarios that deputies may encounter while on the job.
“VirTra is going to be a game changer for us. It’s scenarios from active shooters to mentally handicapped individuals to dealing with juveniles,” explained SSgt Owens. “No matter what the situation is, we can digitally recreate it in that VirTra system.”
According to the sheriff’s office, the new simulator is funded through money seized by drug raids. In partnership with the DEA, the office is able to turn around and use a portion of it to advance its deputies response in the community. In this case, that’s through training.
The sheriff’s office’s goal is to fine tune their deputies’ skills and assure the utmost training for any encounter.
“We want to give our deputies the ability to speak to people and most importantly deescalate the situation,” said SSgt Owens. “We can run these scenarios here with different outcomes based on their voice patters, their inflection, the words they choose.”
Following the virtual simulator, deputies were placed in what leaders call the Crisis House.
“Every scenario that we go through, it can go from very easy to very bad very quickly,” said Deputy Kellen Moman, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
It was occupied with live people, featured live action, and more real-life scenarios.
“We utilize live role players and we use force-on-force training. We give them what’s called a simulation round, where they will fire projectile and will mark the individual where they were hit,” explained SSgt. Owens.
“The key is understanding how hard it is, and difficult, to make a split second, sometimes less than split second decision and how that can change the whole outcome of the scenario,” said Sheriff McBride.
The training is recorded, reviewed, and critiqued by leaders, assuring deputies respond in the best way possible.
“We want the community to feel comfortable with us, to trust us. We are doing everything we possibly can to communicate with them, as the public, and do everything we can to prepare our officers. We are doing it in a way that we’re assuring their safety, not just our safety,” said SSgt. Owens.
That county’s training will continue, as will Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s push to keep the community safe.