New Law Enforcement Safety Tool - WBAY

New Law Enforcement Safety Tool

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Green Bay -

It's the most dangerous aspect of a police officer's job; time spent behind the wheel.

Now, new technology aims to keep police officers safer behind the wheel.

Today, N-W-T-C's public safety instructors received training on what's known as the "Patrol Sim-5" driving simulator.

"At least half, if not more, of all officers who are killed or injured are killed and injured in vehicle crashes," notes public safety instructor Randy Revling.

Until now, vehicle training involved squad cars in parking lots with cones.

And while instructors say that's important for learning how the car handles, a critical element is missing.

"Just because you can drive something well does not mean you'll make good decisions with it," says public safety instructor Bob Willis.

That's where this new driving simulator comes in, developed by a Utah company.

"The biggest advantage is you can put an officer into a critical incident to make critical decisions in a risk-free environment because if you have a mishap here it only costs you about 5 cents in electricity," says Larry Self, training manager for L3 Communications.

The Patrol Sim-5 offers hundreds of high stress simulations an officer might encounter responding to an emergency

"Different conflicts in traffic, pedestrians, animals, other vehicles," says Self.

A computer then plays back the simulation.

"As you look there in the lower right corner you see a camera records the driver as he drives to be able to see what his head and eyes are doing, his hand positions," says Self.

There are currently only four of these simulators in the state.

N-W-T-C has two of them.

At a cost of $250,000, instructors call it a wise investment considering the property damage, workers comp and lawsuits often tied to law enforcement accidents.

"If the use of this equipment can cause less traffic accidents, if the use of this equipment can save a life. That is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to the taxpayers," says Willis.

N-W-T-C says the simulator can also be used by fire departments and emergency responders, as well as public works and snowplow drivers.

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