Providing consistent realistic training experience for law enforcement officers that is neither monotonous nor repetitive can prove to be quite problematic if officers do not have the proper resources. Fortunately, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) recently received community grant funding from Nevada Gold Mines to purchase a Laser Shot Scenario Based Training System (LSATS).
This system allows deputies to experience a more authentic training experience in order to accurately prepare them for high-stress and high-force situations. Despite what some of the more sunny, peaceful days suggest, officers in Humboldt County experience dangerous situations on a daily basis.
“Nevada Gold Mines values our local law enforcement agencies and are proud to be a part of this partnership to provide training to officers and contribute to the safety of our community,” said Paul Wilmot, Nevada Gold Mines General Manager for Turquoise Ridge.
At a point in time in which law enforcement is under tremendous scrutiny, it is very important that officers receive training as often as possible that will hone their decision-making skills and enrich their de-escalation skills, officials said.
“Our goal in purchasing the use-of-force simulator was to increase the training time for the deputies in our agency and surrounding agencies in Humboldt County to be able to consistently expose them to high-stress and force situations,” said HCSO Captain Sean Wilkin.
He explained that as the officers are exposed more and more to the scenarios, they become desensitized, which will help reduce stress and foster better decision-making in stressful situations.
“The more we expose them to these scenarios, the more we are able to train, the better we are preparing them to make good decisions in high-stress situations,” said Wilkin.
The system has more than 4,000 scenarios built into it, with the operator able to shape the scenarios in many different ways, according to Wilkin. The officers training with the system use non-active weapons that are the appropriate weight and feel, in order to give the officers a more realistic experience. The LSATS is also responsive to voice commands, so officers are able to de-escalate situations without any force at all in some instances. Officers are also able to train with less lethal equipment, like pepper spray, tasers, and even flashlights, not just firearms. The system also allows officers to go through marksmanship exercises, in which they can shoot stationary and moving targets, just like on a real-life obstacle course.
With the price of ammo having increased by 33 percent in some cases, the LSATS is a very cost-effective way for officers to train, according to Wilkin. He reported that between implementation of the system during scheduled time, as opposed to overtime that was necessary before, the HCSO has already saved thousands of dollars.
“Since we’ve purchased the machine we’ve logged over 100 training hours and have saved $4,200 so far,” said Wilkin.
Detective Damon Kuskie, who has been with the HCSO for 18 years, explained the significance of using the LSATS to manage mistakes, and said it is a lot easier to make and correct mistakes using the LSATS because the scenario can be analyzed, with the computer able to play the footage from the scenario over and over again. It is also not someone’s life on the line. Kuskie said he prefers if the officers are able to make the mistakes on the training system so that they will be more prepared for real-life situations and conveyed the invaluable experience that the LSATS gives officers.
“You can still make mistakes. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been here,” said Kuskie.
Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Allen said, “I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to Nevada Gold Mines for putting up the money for this. I think it’s going to be a beneficial tool for the area for a long time.”