Mobile Training Simulator for Georgia Troopers - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/11/05

Mobile Training Simulator for Georgia Troopers

The computer-controlled bad guy responds to trooper fire. The computer-controlled bad guy responds to trooper fire.

It's literally a life or death skill most law enforcement officers hope they'll never need, but they need to stay sharp at marksmanship under real-world pressures. We spent some time with Georgia state troopers honing their skills, and this was different from a trip to the range.

The range comes to them, complete with computers, sensors and simulated bad guys.

With 30 years on the road in the Georgia State Patrol, William Riner knows the dangers troopers face every day. "I could talk to these guys till I'm blue in the face and they won't understand what I'm telling them."

That's why he hauls a mobile firing range to patrol posts around the state to qualify officers on their weapons. Troopers like Tommy Strickland appreciate the realism as the computer culprit reacts to what they do. "Your heart rate is fast," he said. "Your blood is rushing to your head."

And if you're not excited enough, this simulator shoots back. By remote control, instructors shoot plastic pellets to raise the adrenaline and give a lesson you can't get from a paper target or anywhere else this side of a living, breathing bad guy.

"If I make a mistake here, I go home at night," said Stickland. "I make one out on the road, I may not be so lucky."

Riner says if the hour-long lessons save just one trooper, his work is worthwhile.

The trailer is not cheap, it cost $280,000. But post commanders like Billy Hitchens in Statesboro believe that's a small price compared to the fuel and salaries of troopers statewide driving to Forsyth for an hour's lesson.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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