EDGEMERE, Md (WMAR) — Today Baltimore County Police invited reporters to participate in an interactive training about the use of force and WMAR-2 News' Abby Isaacs was one of them. She said it was a very eye opening experience to get a glimpse into the decisions police officers make to use or to not use force.
"Officers have to take in a lot of information very quickly and they also have to process that information very quickly and make a decision in a split second," said training officer Tabitha Hays.
Reporters had the opportunity to try out state-of-the-art virtual use of force technology, run by an instructor who controls the subjects based on what the officer does and says.
"Each one of these scenarios has 85 different outcomes," said Hays.
The department has been using this kind of virtual training for the last few months, in part to be transparent with community leaders, elected officials and now the media and general public.
"We do as much as we can to get our officers prepared and to train them for use of force incidents, but also de-escalation because ultimately officers want to protect and serve," said Hays.
Hays has a very unique perspective… first world experience with just how quickly things can escalate. Over the course of her career, she’s had two officer involved shooting and she was shot in the line of duty in Parkville last year.
"That’s why I’m happy to be here at training, to try to impart some of the wisdom and knowledge that I’ve gained through my experience as a patrol officer so that officers should they ever be in a similar situation, will be success," said Hays.
Because it’s so expensive, they are just using the technology for demonstrations mostly, but they hope to be able to budget it into training costs.
"There’s nothing that can change in-person training but to have this as an option, to have this as apart of our toolbox of tools to help us get better, it’s a great thing and it’s a great advantage to have and to take this technology to make us better," said Hays.
The department is working to incorporate this type of virtual training into annual officer training's to make it more frequent and mobile.