IBERVILLE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Cops who carry guns in Iberville Parish are being tested on their reactions to real-life situations.
They are doing it through a virtual simulator that keeps even some of the sharpest shooters on their toes.
In September 2011, Baton Rouge Police officers were faced with making a split second decision when they tried to pull over a man for suspected DWI. Police dash camera video showed the suspect got out of his truck and pointed a gun at the officers, ignoring instructions to drop the weapon. Police open fired killing him. A grand jury decided the officers acted properly.
Iberville Parish Firearms Instructor, Lt. James Lewis, has a new weapon in his arsenal. It's a simulator that evaluates a shooter's reaction and restraint in various situations.
The guns look real, but instead of carrying actual bullets, they are loaded with thousands of lifelike scenarios played out on a virtual simulator.
The officers must decide when and whether to draw their weapons.
At the end of each scenario, officers get to see how many shots they fired, where the bullets landed, and whether the shots they fired were lethal. It also shows whether the officer shot an innocent civilian.
In a school hostage plot, the officers go through crowded hallways to find their suspect. In that case, they were too late.
Even with 32 years of firearms experience under his belt, Chief Criminal Deputy Stephen Engolio said you can never train enough.
"Thinking back through it, there are a couple of things I know I would have done differently," Engolio said.
Sheriff Brett Stassi said it is why he has invited police agencies in Iberville Parish to train with the simulator. While the scenarios might not represent a typical day on the job for his deputies, he wants them all to sharpen their skills.
"Every bit of training I can get for an officer that may be backing up my deputy is priceless," Stassi said.
Stassi said all Iberville Sheriff's Office employees who are issued a service weapon are participating in the scenario training.
The simulator belongs to the Louisiana Attorney General's Office.
It will travel to a different parish each week.