Prestonsburg Police Department connects to virtual training program

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) – Prestonsburg Police Department officers are honing their skills with laser focus, working with an electronic training program to bring real-world scenarios to the big screen.

“You know, every day you come out here and you have to get the job done. But it’s an opportunity where we can interact with people and get really good at the situations you may face every day,” said

The simulator, borrowed from the Kentucky League of Cities, incorporates interactive laser and microphone technology to give officers a real-world training session in a controlled environment.

Agents receive information about their calls and then present the scene. From there, they craft the response and attempt to defuse the situation in front of them.

“It kind of gives you a moment of tension. Your heart races, you know, your blood pumps,” Woods said.

From active shooter scenarios, to domestic violence and home raids, more than 900 programmed situations are available to the department. Lethal actions, non-lethal actions, crisis conversations or other tools are deployed during each call. The program is equipped with laser and infrared versions of the tactical gear that officers use daily.

“The on-screen actors will actually do what command you have and what tool you use,” Woods said. “We can set up a scenario that an officer will hopefully never encounter in his entire career.”

While agents are challenged using the program, it also serves as a day-to-day look for those who haven’t been on the agent’s side of the call. From local attorneys to judges, Woods said he gave many people the opportunity to participate in the simulation.

“You sit down and you can kind of get an idea – when you’re sitting in a courtroom – of how things really went. And get a good idea. So that was an eye opener for a lot of them,” Woods said. “A kind of bridge between law enforcement and what ordinary citizens perceive.”

Detective Brad Caldwell and Sgt. Bryan Tipton facilitates the program, which requires annual training for the department. It’s updated with new scenarios every year to keep things fresh, with some of the calls reflecting situations officers have experienced across the state and others created to help them prepare for anything.

“It’s just a way to let people know how quickly things can escalate and, you know, how you interact with people kind of determines how things can turn out,” Woods said.

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