Dayton Gets Real: News Center 7 gets firsthand look at police shooting simulator

LONDON, Ohio — Recent high-profile shootings involving law enforcement have raised questions across the nation about police training in chaotic situations.

News Center 7′s Mike Campbell obtained exclusive access to the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy in London with the Attorney General Dave Yost to learn more about how officers are trained for dangerous situations.

The simulator puts officers through several shoot or don’t shoot scenarios all designed to help officers make correct decision while on calls in the real world.

“We need officers trained to know when to shoot, when not to shoot and quite frankly, when not to pull their guns,” Yost said.

Campbell, who had no previous firearms or police training, was given two scenarios where he was put in a shoot or don’s shoot simulation. First, Campbell was put on a traffic stop when a man got out of his car, threatened him, then pulled out a shotgun from inside the vehicle that he raised towards him.

Campbell fired shots to stop the threat, and was told by instructors he protected himself and community correctly.

But on his second try, Campbell didn’t react fast enough, instructors told him. While trying to clear out a house where squatters were suspected to be using for criminal activity, a gunman walked into the home from a patio door and shot him.

“You see why, you’re dealing in fractions of a second scenarios, you ended up dead,” Yost said after the second scenario.

Campbell’s experiences is why Yost believes officer’s actions after a police-involved shooting shouldn’t be second-guessed immediately but after an investigation takes place. Yost added that the body camera video released of a recent fatal shooting of a teenager by a Columbus police officer is an example of why he asks everyone on all sides of issues to be patient while fact-gathering processes go on.

Critics suggest officers shouldn’t try to shoot to kill, but should try to aim for areas like legs, hands, or arms. But in quick-changing scenarios, trainers say that’s not always possible.

“They’re not looking to kill, that’s not the goal, that’s never the goal, the goal is to stop the threats,” Ryan Born, instructor at the OPOTA in London told Campbell. “The smaller you make that target, then the greater the chance we hit something that we don’t intend to.”