Inside a home, an officer shoots a man who tried to pull a weapon. The officer shouts for medical attention and Clark County Bailiff Wanda Martin steps outside to get help.
A man with a shotgun rushes past, but Martin ignores him. She yells out, trying to get help for the wounded man inside.
Clark County Deputy Chris Douglas leans back from his laptop and asks Martin why she ignored the man with the shotgun.
"The armband," she answers.
Douglas nods approval, and the large screen goes black, erasing the man with the shotgun, the house and the wounded man inside.
The scenario is just one of many Douglas can call up on the IES Firearms Simulator on loan from the Kentucky Association of Counties. The simulator uses a large screen and firearms repurposed to fire not live ammunition but a laser detected by the computer system.
A lot of the scenarios, though, like the one that saw Martin correctly not draw on an off-duty police officer, require more than a quick trigger finger and an accurate aim.
"We can test people's decision-making abilities and teach them things," Douglas said.
Not that the officers don't make use of the firearm simulation. Housed in the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 34 on Old Muddy Creek Road, the simulator has allowed officers to fire round after round, much cheaper than the same time spent on a range.
"We've shot thousands and thousands of rounds already, and it didn't cost us anything other than the time we are out here," Douglas said.
But the greatest benefit might be the scenarios where officers don't need to pull the trigger.
"One thing we're big on is our verbal commands," Douglas said. "We want to make sure they're doing everything properly. It's not 100 percent about their firearm skills. It's about basic officer skills."
Scenarios range from fairly simple — a man charging with a brandished knife — to fairly complex, with branching events.
"Some of these have what's called, 'Branching,' meaning as the scenario plays out, I've got two or three more options on the screen I can click on to make it go a certain direction," Douglas said. "I can make the person comply, or I can make it a situation where the officer would have to act."
And which way Douglas decides to go depends largely on the actions of the officer. Depending on the verbal commands given, Douglas might defuse a situation, or escalate it.
Douglas also takes in to consideration the training and experience of the officer taking part.
"It's just what skill set you're wanting to impress upon somebody," he said. "With some of the folks who don't have the same amount of training, I put them in situations where they have to act more. With my officers who have shot a bunch and have been around for 20 years, I'll them in situations where they don't shoot much."
Most of the officers have used the simulator before while training, but a few are seeing it for the first time. Those new to it are often surprised by how quickly the scenario unfolds, Douglas said. Often an officer will finish a scenario and Douglas will ask him or her to guess how many shots were fired.
"How many rounds did you shoot? 'Four.' And they fired seven or eight. It's so fast," he said.
The scenarios load up quickly, and officers will see a variety of different situations with a break only for a quick discussion with Douglas or right into the next.
"An officer will see as much in an hour out here as he'll see in six months on the street," Douglas said.
Training is only as good as what's put into it, and Deputy Justin Gurley goes into his time with the simulator looking to get a lot out of it.
"I try to come in with the mindset that this is real," he said. "Even though part of you knows it’s not, but it's a training tool, so I try to get my mindset there."
To help stress the importance of the decision-making aspect, Douglas likes to throw the officers off. After the range portion of the training, he throws them a curveball.
"I'm almost pushing them into a situation where they're guaranteed to fail," he said. "I'm getting them used to being free and shooting, and the first thing I do with them is put them in a situation where they're not supposed to. That's to condition the decision making they're supposed to have."
Contact Casey Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org.