HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — As Georgia and the nation struggle to deal with police shootings, Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett told Channel 2 Anchor Dave Huddleston realistic training scenarios are key.
Reginald said anyone on his staff who carries a gun is required to pass a high-tech training course called Virtra if they want to stay on the force.
“We have to ask the public, ‘How can we help you suffer less?’ And we do that by making sure our deputies have realistic training,” Reginald said.
The Virtra simulator has more than 200 scenarios and is designed to push deputies to the limit. Deputies are surrounded by three screens and intense sounds.
On the day Channel 2 was there, Deputy Cameron Connor was faced with a man wielding a knife at a park. Connor was able to talk him into putting the weapon down, but that’s not always the case.
Sgt. Jeff Nelson, who controls the scenarios, told Huddleston he’s able to change the outcome based on the deputy’s actions.
“Here is where you want to make mistakes.” Nelson said he’s grading the deputies on how well they’re able to de-escalate a situation.
Huddleston was given the opportunity to confront a man holding his estranged wife hostage. After just moments, both the hostage and Huddleston were killed.
After a debrief with Sgt. Nelson, he tried again. This time he survived, but the hostage did not.
Sgt. Nelson told Huddleston there was no good outcome in this case. He said in this situation, the man should have been taken out of the scenario to protect the hostage.
“You did a wonderful job trying to talk with him, but he was not anything about it,” Nelson said.
Sheriff Scandrett told Huddleston anyone from the public is encouraged to participate in a training session. He told Huddleston helping the public understand what law enforcement officers face is critical to building relationships.
Deputy Connor told Huddleston the training won’t make him perfect, but it does help keep deputies calm when out on the street.
“It’s nerve-wrecking every time,” Conner said.
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