Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office welcomes driving simulator for officers

In an effort to provide law enforcement personnel with efficient and adequate training, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office has enlisted the help of the Texas Association of Counties and its driving simulator course.

 

Don Courtney, TAC driving simulator consultant, sat in the high-tech trailer outside 811 Main St., as he and Sheriff Kelly Rowe spoke about the benefits of the equipment and its real-world applications.

The goal, Courtney said, is to reduce cost to the county by reducing the number of collision and injuries to county drivers.

“(Officers) have a good time with it,” he said, “as well as they learn something new. One thing about it is if they wreck in here, they’ll remember that wreck when they get out there. And here, I can just restart the computer and go again. Out there it’s not that way, so it works to their advantage.”

The trailer is equipped with several monitors and what appears to be the driver seat of a police vehicle.

Since its debut in 2000, a TAC news release states more than 8,400 county drivers in numerous counties have used the equipment to train in split-second decisions and hazardous conditions that may arise during a police response.

While there is a two-hour classroom portion where officers learn about defensive driving, Tuesday featured the driving portion as 10-year veteran Deputy Robert Valdez took his seat.

Valdez was tasked with driving in a simulated downtown area while searching for pedestrians in red clothing and red-colored vehicles.

With the first task down, the second task had him navigate through a busy street while maintaining a steady speed without his brakes being disabled.

The third task placed Valdez in a chase with an armed-suspect, running lights and sirens through a series of obstacles.

Valdez made his way toward the end of this final task, cleared the way for his backup, only to be shot at by the computerized suspect.

Courtney is able to control the training through his own screen by adding a variety of obstacles from weather to unassuming motorists.

Throughout the training, the simulator was able to record Valdez’s reactions so the playback could be used to discuss improvement of techniques.

Rowe said the simulator provides officers with different stimuli and provides them with the capability to review each scenario.

He said it also helps combat tunnel vision as officers learn to become more aware of their surroundings.

So far, he said it has been a positive experience and will be offered to anyone who has access to the department’s fleet vehicles.

“For our newer officers coming in,” he said, “they can get some of that experience without having to learn on the fly in a real world situation.”

 

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