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Police Training Videos Use Local Scenes to Hit Home

Denver Post - Submitted with Permission by IES

Greenwood Village, CO - Greenwood Village police transformed sections of the city into a Hollywood studio Saturday, as officers, professional actors and a film crew videotaped mock scenarios to replicate stressful situations that officers routinely encounter.

The virtual video training, which 75 local and federal law enforcement agencies will use for practice at a facility in Highlands Ranch, is fully interactive and includes a multitude of potential outcomes for a variety of dangerous situations, officials said.

A bar brawl, a terrorist-mounted bus bomb and a bank robbery were a few of the dozen scenarios taped.

"It''s so real I get goose bumps every time," said officer George Voigt, referring to a pre-existing video scenario involving a high school shooting. "Officers start sweating and their adrenaline gets going. It''s intense."

The training systems are designed and produced by Littleton-based IES Interactive Training, a 20-year-old company that has created roughly 700 systems for more than 500 law enforcement agencies.

The systems can train officers in tandem and come preloaded with more than 100 scenarios, ranging from quick submission by a subject to a full-fledged knife attack requiring the officer to use lethal force.

The outcome of the video changes depending on the officer''s response to the situation, officials said.

"We train them so their responses are hard-wired in," said officer Joe Gutgsell, who trains police personnel. "So when they encounter the same situation, they go on autopilot and make good decisions."

To ratchet up the realism, IES films some of the scenarios in the actual neighborhoods the officers patrol. To top it off, the appearance of blood, sound effects and even simulated return gunfire make virtual situations as lifelike as possible.

"This trains people to accept the reality of the job they are doing," said Ben Gruner, a former police officer turned film director for IES. "It brings home to the officer the reality of a forceful encounter."

Along the Front Range, the Denver Police Department and the Transportation Security Administration recently employed IES to create custom training videos, Gruner said.

The cost of a new system ranges between $20,000 and $100,000, with the average cost at $50,000, Gruner said.

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