YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A number of Youngstown’s finest are testing their skills and reactions to some real-life simulations.
This week, instructors with the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy are in Youngstown conducting driving and firearms courses at the old Mahoning Valley School. Each officer, in turn, takes a chance with different simulations to test their own reactions to potentially life-threatening situations.
“Given the tools that they take on the street with them daily, and being able to utilize them here on these scenarios, a lot of the situations that we deal with, they are not clear cut. We don’t deal in the black and white world. We deal in the gray area and what it really comes down to is the officers being able to articulate why they did what they did,” training officer Michael Golec said.
The instructors and the training trailers are among more than half-a-dozen teams that have been traveling around the state at no cost to local police departments.
“This is paid for by the state of Ohio, from the casino money, where there is certain taxes that are given to the state for training police officers so the state of Ohio provides the training free of charge,” said Youngstown Police Capt. Kevin Mercer.
More than 90 officers are taking the course this week.
One of them is Hannah Banks, who has been with the Youngstown Police Department for the last year.
Inside the school, officers take turns facing off with video simulations involving possible use of deadly force, while outside in the trailers they test their driving skills and how to avoid getting into accidents.
“For instance, the traffic stop, those are daily traffic stops that we make and could probably happen to us at anytime,” Banks said.
Those taking the firearms simulation learn there are not always clear-cut decisions in the use of deadly force.
“What it comes down to is talking to these officers and finding out what they saw, why did they react that way. Because sometimes their perspectives were something that I had not seen before, or something that I did not think of the way their thought process was,” Golec said.