WHITEWATER — It was only a test, but eight police agencies gathered in Whitewater Sunday, June 10th to train for handling a mass shooting situation. Advancements in technology has made their training more realistic than ever.
Officers and SWAT teams came together on the UW-Whitewater campus. They didn’t know much — just that two gunmen were holding several people hostage.
The Rock County SWAT Team had to act quickly. After a virtual shootout, they reviewed their work with an instructor.
“The big thing for law enforcement is not the shooting portion of it, although that’s important, but is the decision-making process,” John Czerwinski with the Midwest Tactical Officers Association said.
Traditionally, supervisors could only use their eyes when evaluating the decision-making, but Whitewater-based IR Tactical provided guns and vests that provide information previously unavailable.
“We record everything that happens. We know every round that’s been fired — if they hit, where they hit, so if there’s civilian casualties, we know which weapon has caused those casualties,” IR Tactical product manager Ocie Mathenia said.
“It’s hard to correct people in their own minds. This is what they thought actually happened. If you have data to back it up and video, like some of the stuff we do, it just helps the training aspect of it,” Rock County Sheriff’s Captain Curtis Fell said.
Although there’s no way to know exactly what will happen once officers go in, the agencies in Whitewater say accurate training puts makes them better prepared.
“We may have to sacrifice our lives, but we’re not gonna give our lives away, so we’re gonna use the best tactics we have to affect an arrest and hopefully, have a positive outcome,” Czerwinski said.
The teams have the freedom to handle a situation how they’d like, then get the data to analyze afterward. They say it’s about as a real a simulation as they can find.
IR Tactical is working on a training pistol for people with a concealed carry license. It comes with a target box, allowing gunowners to simulate a situation in their own home.