Several members of the Oklahoma City's City Council were given a first-hand experience on Tuesday of what it was like to be a police officer for the day.
They took part in a new police program called Reality-Based Training. The training is conducted at the department’s training facility near NW 10th and Portland Avenue.
All eyes were on the officers in the training, including the Chief of Police Wade Gourley, two city council members and other city leaders. The city implemented the training early this year.
“The reality-based training was created to put officers through those real-time scenarios just like they’re going to see in the field,” said Wade Gourley, Oklahoma City's Chief of Police. “And make them work through these problems so when they get something similar when they’re out at work it’s not going to be an unknown to them.”
Every weapon the officers used during training was less-lethal to simulate what they actually carry. Officers practiced several situations where they had to put their de-escalation skills to work.
“We want them to use every option they can to make their firearm a last resort,” said Gourley.
City council members who pushed for new training said they were excited and nervous to see it in action.
“I had to participate in one and I can tell you my heart rate had to go up,” said Mark Stonesipher, City Council Ward 8. “It was intense.”
City leaders expect the training to reduce officer-involved shootings and other use of force contacts.
“We’ll bring them out to reality-based training and see if there’s anything they’re doing that may be contributing to those uses of force and is there a way to reduce that,” said Gourley.
Other U.S. cities, such as Seattle, are turning to the same training. The Seattle assistant chief of police attended Oklahoma City’s training.
“Policing is an evolving profession and what I’ve seen here today it shows Oklahoma City is staying on the forefront,” said Asst. Chief Tom Mahaffey, Seattle Police Department.
Gourley said by the end of next year, all the officers in the department will have gone through the new training.