By Melanie Yingst
TROY —Troy Police Department Officers Tracy Long and Dominic Burnside enter the commons area of a school building. They can hear shots coming from the cafeteria, moans from wounded students and the screams of those trying to flee an active shooter.
Once the suspect is in their sights, they each fire before another hostage becomes a victim.
Then, the lights come back on and Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy instructor Micah Stoll rewinds the video footage to retrace their steps.
This week, all Troy Police Department officers participated in the OPOTA mobile training academy’s MILO interactive training simulator and a driving simulator. The Ohio Attorney General’s office offers the mobile training free of charge to all Ohio police departments, according to Capt. Joe Long. Long also said the department has been on a waiting list for the training for a year.
Patrolman Tracy Long, an officer with Troy Police Department for a decade, said the MILO simulator added the “stress” of responding to active shooter incidents. The MILO simulator has officers respond to more than 425 scenarios including an office building, a traffic stop and several school building with live footage such as wounded actors lining the hallways as they are on the way to finding the suspect.
The Mobile Academy’s three MILO Range Pro simulators can be set up in minutes within local facilities, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
“It’s good training to use with all the different scenarios,” Officer Long said. “A lot has changed over the years.”
Officer Long explained how law enforcement tactics have radically changed since the 1999 Columbine High School school shooting. Pre-Columbine, officers responding to the scene of an active shooter would set up a perimeter and attempt to draw the person out of the building.
“Columbine changed all that,” Officer Long said.
Now, when law enforcement officers respond to the scene of an active shooter, officers will confront the suspect. The MILO training focused its video simulations on a variety of alarm calls during the training sessions.
In real-life, there are no rewind buttons, but Stoll analyzed each of the officer’s shots with virtual video play backs. Stoll also questioned the officers on how the scenarios would differ if the officer was alone or if back-up was minutes away. The MILO system also showed the exact time the officer reacted to the image of the suspect with each virtual shot.
Stoll, a police officer for 10 years, said the MILO training and its mobile training unit travels all over Ohio to offer a unique training experience for all levels of law enforcement.
“It’s just another tool for the officers to use,” Stoll said. “Officers respond to a variety of calls like domestics, traffic stops, alarm calls. MILO has the ability to slow down the footage and go over the scenarios.”
Law enforcement training officer Ryan Born conducted the driving simulator portion of the OPOTA mobile training unit.
On the wall of the driving simulator’s trailer, a sign states an alarming statistic: 33 of 107 line of duty deaths are caused by crashes in 2013.
Officer Chris Madigan got behind the wheel of the simulator and managed to navigate the pursuit of a murder suspect, a crash with injuries and other driving scenarios. Madigan had to avoid pedestrians and other vehicles to be able to arrive on the scene safely.
“This was a good experience,” Madigan said of the driving simulator.
Born gave Madigan, and other officers, several reminders on how to take a few seconds to double check for clear intersections to arrive on the scene safely.
After the training, Madigan recalled his first pursuit of a drunk driving suspect in his early years as a Troy Police officer. Madigan said the pursuit took him and another officer almost to the Ohio/Indiana state line and back to Trotwood where the car finally broke down.
“An officer is no help unless they get to the scene safely,” Born said.
Troy Police Department experienced a real-life law enforcement statistic when an officer struck an Ohio State Highway Patrol vehicle during an active pursuit in July 2013.
During a portion of the pursuit, an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper and a Troy Police officer crashed their cruisers into each other at the intersection of West Race Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Both cruisers involved in the crash sustained extensive damage.
Officers eventually stopped the vehicle using stop sticks north of Troy on I-75, where they took the man into custody.
Capt. Joe Long said the incident could have been avoided had the officer double checked the intersection before proceeding to the pursuit.
The OPOTA training simulators is facilitated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and was offered at no cost to the city of Troy.
TROY POLICE DEPARTMENT TO UPGRADE EQUIPMENT
In the city of Troy’s 2014 budget, the Troy Police Department will receive a $60,000 cruiser video system upgrade. The upgrade will include wireless dash cam transfer to the police department administration, said Capt. Long.
The department also will add assault rifles to each cruiser once officer training is complete in 2014.
The department also will be upgrading its fleet with four new Ford Interceptor SUV cruisers in 2014. The 2014 budget accounts for three of the new vehicles for $106,000 and the other is funded through the insurance claim from the July 2013 accident.
Long said interviews for the three additional officers, ordered by Mayor Michael Beamish on Dec. 29, 2013, is still ongoing.