Gun training goes high-tech

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

Every year, the deputies of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office have to prove that they still have the shooting skills necessary to do their job.

Like a lot of things, the shooting test is now computerized.

Using what’s called the Fire Arms Training Systems Inc. or FATS system, which has a gun with a laser and a video screen, the deputies run through several real-life scenarios.

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“It could a jail scenario, it could be an officer responding to a school shooting, a domestic situation,” explained Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton. “It’s based very much on real life. It’s very advanced over what we used to have.”

And just to make it as life-like as possible, this system fires back at the officers.

“In certain scenarios, it fires a ball at you,” Sexton said. “There is a little bit of cover you can use. I tell you, I went through several scenarios and I thought it was really good training. I was happy to have it.”

The system comes from Findlay University, which received a grant to get more Ohio agencies involved and to reduce costs for them.

“We were able to schedule it and we had it for a whole week in August,” Sexton said. He opened it up to all agencies where they are required to carry a weapon including court personnel.

The sheriff’s office had the FATS system in three years ago but this version had more scenarios and was more technologically advanced.

“I was really impressed with it and I will certainly seek to have it brought back next year a well,” Sexton said.

The sheriff said that while the state requires them to have a single weapons qualification for officers, he requires two.

“Although there is an additional cost to it, it is something we feel is better for the agency and it allows us to be better prepared to serve the public,” Sexton said. He added that this is just one of the trainings officers can go through. “We have a detective who just came back from a two-week crime scene investigation course. Last week, three of us went to Columbus for an one-day child fatality training.”

He said starting

this year, the state has mandated that each officer receive 8 hours of training.

“This year they told us what kind of training they would like them to take, but it is a requirement and they will reimburse part of the cost,” Sexton said.