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Marshall County Officers Use Fire Arms Training Simulator

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ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) -- Marshall County law enforcement shot air guns at a video screen.

Sensors detect their aim, and the projections are dramatizations of scenarios like shootings at schools and hospitals, or other incidents where there's a bad guy with a weapon.

Chief Ed Ralston said the Fire Arms Training Simulator (FATS) comes to Arab every two years and is a huge asset to the department which has limited options for gun training.

"It's good for the new officers who have never encountered any of this," Chief Ralston said.

"Give them a feel of how quickly something can happen; how quickly it can turn deadly."

Fifteen Arab police officers and 30 Marshall County deputies went through the exercises, and so did some of the office employees, including records clerk Susan Verano.

"It really makes you think about what the officers face on their jobs every day," she said.

"The situations they face and the challenges that are presented to them daily."

Chief Ralston said he encourages any of their staff to go through the training if they want.

A training officer operated software on a computer connected to the projector.  He could determine and change some of the responses made by the people in the videos,

In one scenario, the police chief was able to talk a woman into dropping a knife, but in another an armed suspect refused and Ralston used his Taser.  He also could have fired a handgun or pepper spray, and the subject in the video would respond accordingly.

Some situations come down to a split-second decision, such as when a man cocks the shotgun he has pointed at a woman.  They must immediately fire at the man, or he will shoot the woman in the video and hide.  If they miss him, they might hit the woman.

"A lot of it is judgment calls," Ralston said.

Susan Verano said she enjoyed the training, but will gladly stick to her desk job.