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Training day: Ridgewood gets the chance to use firearms simulator

FATS training web
RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

What would you do if you were a police officer confronted by an armed perpetrator?

Residents at Tuesday’s 104th Precinct Community Council meeting in Ridgewood got a chance to make split-second, life-or-death decisions by using the Firearms and Tactics Simulator (FATS) with the assistance of officers from the NYPD Firearms and Tactics Section.

The FATS machine is a video-based system that projects a scenario on the screen that police officers may find themselves in, such as dealing with an emotionally disturbed person, or a report of shots fired in a store. The simulation allows the users to decide on how to best handle the situation.

The FATS system is used as a decision-making tool for new recruits to the force. Officers put stress on the recruits’ bodies by having them work out before using the FATS, then they observe what decisions they make.

The recruits are then debriefed on the outcome, if they did a good or bad job handling the situation and what could be done better.

It is not only a good tool for recruits, it is a great tool for officers to bring to the community and show people what cops can face on a daily basis.

“It was pretty scary actually,” said Len Santoro, president of the 104th Precinct Community Council, of the simulation. “The guy [in the simulation] has a knife, he could come lunging at me or hurt himself. It’s an effective tool at showing people at how difficult and quick you have to make decisions.”

The guns used in the simulation are real guns that have been modified for this purpose. The barrel of the gun was removed and replaced with a device that emits a beam of light that registers as a gunshot in the simulation when the user pulls the trigger.

The simulation also uses a modified taser gun and pepper spray canister as options to subdue the perpetrator.

According to officers in attendance, the average police-involved shooting lasts around 4.5 seconds, meaning officers have a short period of time to determine how to deal with the situation. Ninety percent of police-involved shootings happen within 21 feet, and 75 percent of those happen within 10 feet.

Around 160 officers every year are killed, amounting to an officer death almost every other day of the year, the trainers said.

This simulation teacher officers how to properly handle their weapons and avoid becoming victims of crime or making fatal mistakes that could result in someone’s death.

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