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Rochester police take unique approach to teach public about use of force

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Ron Ferguson participates in a police use of force training simulator. Ron Ferguson participates in a police use of force training simulator.
Rochester City Council member Nick Campion volunteered to be part of the simulation. Rochester City Council member Nick Campion volunteered to be part of the simulation.
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

Law enforcement make a lot of split second decisions in the field, many of which could mean life or death.    

Members of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Rochester Police Department, and the FBI held a "use of force" forum on Friday to educate people about what happens during high-intensity situations.

People volunteered to be part of a "police simulator," which is similar to a video game or virtual reality, where they got to step into a police officer's shoes in various situations.

Police provided a fake taser, fake gun, and fake pepper spray for simulation participants to use. Even though the weapons weren't real, they weighed as much as the real things.

Members of Rochester's police department taught a group of 50 people about the use of force by police as well as the processes and experiences they go through on a daily basis.

"I went through a pretty realistic scenario where I was put into situations and had to make choices as the situation unfolded," said Ron Ferguson, a simulator participant.

Ferguson's scenario was about a man who was sitting at a picnic table outside an apartment complex while holding a butcher knife and threatening his life. Ferguson chose a gun while giving verbal warnings to the actor in the simulation video. He talked the man down and was able to get him to drop the knife without having to fire his fake weapon.

"When you're in the moment and the situation needed to be made it was very difficult to make sure the safety of everyone involved was of primary concern."

Rochester city council member Nick Campion also participated in the simulator exercise. "It's an intense experience to know I'm experiencing a microcosm of what they're going through on a daily basis," he said.

Campion's fake scenario was about a disgruntled worker threatening to harm a co-worker. After telling the actor in the police simulator to stop what he was doing, Campion used a taser to apprehend the aggressor.

"It reaffirmed for me that they face a lot of challenges, and it's very humbling to see how quickly those situations play out."

The simulation only took a couple minutes but served as a good reminder the quick decisions law enforcement sometimes have to make in the line of duty.

The group hopes to hold another "use of force" forum in Rochester sometime within the next four to six months. However, you must receive an invitation to attend.
 

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