‘Use of Force’ simulator helps Freeport Police train to handle real-world confrontations

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Freeport Police are using a new ‘Use of Force’ simulator to help them learn the best possible decisions to make while in the field.

The technology is teaching Freeport Police how to de-escalate serious situations.

“We would find ourselves in certain circumstances on the street, [so] we thought we could…brush up on some different techniques and some different verbiage and de-escalation,” said Freeport Police Chief Todd Barkalow.

A man with a knife, a burglar caught in the act, and even an active shooter inside a school are just some of the 600 possible scenarios the Use of Force Simulator mimics.

“It’s really about use of force as a whole, us being able to use our verbal skills and then also going through our different options for use of force,” said Detective Phil Behnke. “Getting better at that, all the way around, would be [good], before a firearm is ever involved in any type of situation.”

The simulator is programed to interact with officers. Characters in the video-game like scenarios obey and disobey commands, and talk back to officers, preparing them for possible real-life situations.

“We’re being more prepared officers,” said Behnke. “We’re being officers that are very, maybe more ready to use all of our different kinds of ‘use of force’ that don’t involve firearms, that don’t involve too much force.”

Chief Barkalow says use of this training tool will help police keep the community safe.

“We are willing to do whatever it takes to put the best product out on the street, our best men and women, out there responding to these incidents, and we want to make sure that we’re fully prepared to handle anything.”

 Barkalow adds that surrounding departments in Stephenson County will have access to train with the simulator as well.

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