Traditionally, firearms training focuses on simply hitting a target. But for the Cedar Park Police Department, a new state-of-the- art facility is going to emphasize not firing the weapon as much as firing it.
“This is as much about de-escalation as anything else,” said Chief Sean Mannix. “Right now, when you go to the range to qualify, every time you deploy your weapon you are going to pull the trigger. You unholster, you take aim, you pull the trigger. This is going to train our officers that not every situation is going to warrant the pulling of the trigger. There’s just as much of an emphasis on de-escalation as there is on the application of force.”
The new equipment, approved for purchase by the Cedar Park City Council earlier this month, is a two-lane forced judgment simulator. It can be used for traditional target practice, but much more as well.
“It allows for live fire or laser activated weapons and it comes with a full judgment simulator suite that allows our officers to train within the entire force spectrum, all the way from verbal commands up to and including firearms,” Mannix said. “It really is a departure from the old ‘shoot, don’t shoot’ scenarios,” he said. “There are a heck of a lot more options than just shooting or not shooting. This is going to allow our officers to de-escalate situations through the use of effective verbal commands.”
As an officer moves through a scenario, how they react to the situation can alter the scenario completely.
“If the instructor believes the officer is effective in their verbal commands or lesser level of force, they can make the scenario become a compliant scenario,” Mannix said. “If the officer is ineffective, not using proper verbal commands, maybe not tactically in a good position, then they can up the ante to where the situation becomes more elevated. It is really teaching the officers to use their head in dealing with these situations they could be thrust into.”
In addition to the new technology, having the facility located at the department and available 24 hours a day will solve many scheduling and transportation issues the department has dealt with in the past. “As important as fre-quency of actual firearms qualification is, we can now move up to a quarterly qualification schedule and that becomes import- ant if you do unfortunately end up in a deadly force encounter,” Mannix said.
The final cost for the new facility is $440,486, slightly less than was originally approved for project. The bid was awarded to Shooting Range Industries.
The project is expected to take 90-180 days to complete, but Mannix said it should be finished closer to the 90-day time frame.