Will County Sheriff's Deputy Andre Carter had to calm down a knife-wielding man sitting at a table at an apartment building – only Carter wasn’t actually there.
Carter was instead at the Will County Public Safety Complex, where he was interacting with a video screen that showed an actor playing with a “suspicious subject” who was sitting on a picnic table and digging his knife into wood.
The man told Carter to leave him alone.
“Sir, just put the knife down so we can talk,” Carter said to the screen.
As the man rose from the table with the knife, Carter moved to the side while telling him to drop the weapon. When the man dropped the knife and Carter asked him to come over to him, the video paused.
Carter was interacting with a Ti Training simulator that has hundreds of scenarios that law enforcement agents find themselves in every day, such as domestic disputes, traffic stops or assaults. The simulator also has scenarios for an active shooter situation at a preschool or a military operation in the Middle East.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office has been using the simulator to train deputies on how to respond to various situations and when they would call for the use of a Taser, pepper spray or gun. Will County Sheriff's Deputy Kim Heath, who is a training instructor, called the simulator a “force multiplier” in how it effectively trains deputies to respond to scenes with many outcomes.
“It’s a force multiplier in the sense it’s another tool we can build on,” Heath said.
Will County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Jerz said there were several things Carter had to think about during his scenario.
If the suspect with the knife leaves the table while holding the knife, he’s escalating the situation, Jerz said. The suspect is wearing layers and so a Taser might not deter him in time if he lunges with the knife, he said. If the suspect moves toward the apartment building, Carter wouldn’t be able to use his gun without harming bystanders.
“All of that is going through your head while you’re trying to de-escalate and achieve a nonviolent resolution,” Jerz said.
When the scenario ends, the training instructors debrief the deputies on their actions.
Despite the scenes not being real, they can have a real effect on the deputies. After going through the active shooter scenario, Carter said it “gets his heart rate up.”
“I’m trying to think about the use of my mind and my body,” he said.