Watch: Simulator helps Cape officers with weapons training

Henry

A new simulator is now being used to train law enforcement officers from Cape Town in the use of firearms under stressful conditions.

With the help of this technology, officers are confronted with scenarios where they have to make quick decisions about whether or not to use a firearm.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety, explains officers are surrounded by large screens where they are placed in various situations. They must then finally – safely – find their way through various training simulations.

More than 950 scenarios are loaded onto the simulator to instantly sharpen officers’ skills and decision-making.

“Conflict situations can arise within seconds and then officers must have the experience and knowledge about when force can be legally used and whether a situation can be cleared up by means of other methods,” says Smith.

This simulator is believed to be the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and, according to Smith, one of the many methods that the metro uses to better equip its law enforcement officers.

“Simulators are a good training tool used by the best law enforcement authorities in the world. Although the Cape Town metro started the process of acquiring such a simulator years ago, the dream was finally realized this year.”

In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, all law enforcement officers nationwide are required to first assess a situation before using force. The officers must first determine whether an attack is imminent, whether the action is illegal and whether the attack can be defused in another way, apart from the use of a firearm.

Smith says all these conditions place an enormous responsibility on people, even if they have received training in them.

“We hope that the simulator will further improve our staff’s ability to make those decisions in the blink of an eye, and save countless lives in the process.”

Apart from the extensive range of scenarios, the operators can also create custom scenarios unique to the local law enforcement environment.

The simulator also allows for the training of new students. It uses specially adapted firearms that mimic the exact look and feel of weapons issued to staff, and also allows students to shoot at targets. This significantly reduces operating costs for training purposes, such as acquiring ammunition.

The first simulator is already installed and operational. A second simulator is expected to be delivered within the next three months.

The costs associated with the simulator, including installation, total R9 million. It also includes two years of support from the service provider.