Tippecanoe Co. Sheriff's Office To Begin Virtual Training

Aug 23, 2017

Deputy Sheriff Austin Waibel demonstrates how the video simulation works, using a mock taser.
Credit Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Department debuted its new use-of-force training technology Wednesday. The training involves setting up mock situations via video to prepare its officers for real-life noncompliance.

Deputy Sheriff Austin Waibel demonstrated, giving verbal commands and shooting an armed burglar -- while standing in front of a screen set up in a training room at the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Department.

The simulation shows a video of a situation where force may have to be used, and officers react using mock equipment – firearms, pepper spray and tasers -- modeled after what they carry while on duty.

Waibel says it’s not as stressful as real life, but it’s a good start.

“You know when you come in here, you’re going to walk out the door later,” Waibel says. “But it does add that little bit of stress, that little bit of what’s unknown and what’s going to happen that I think will help get them to react better when the real thing does happen.”

Training instructors can also make the video react to the officer – for example, changing what a subject in the video says based on the trainee’s verbal commands.

Sheriff Barry Richard says the department plans to start scheduling training sessions with the new system this month.

Richard says the training also extends to correctional officers and bailiffs.

“We would like to get as many people that deal with the public as possible to be aware of the situations and how to handle them,” he says.

Sgt. Len Halascsak says the use-of-force simulator is expected to hold up for several years at least, and new videos are sent out every few months.

The videos are played while an officer is holding a mock gun, pepper spray, or other piece of equipment that reacts to the screen. After they act, the training officer can evaluate their reaction.

A similar system is used at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for its firearms training.