High-tech training benefits Clark County’s deputies

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Several deputies with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office received training at Threat Dynamics, in Hillsboro, Ore., before the company moved to a warehouse in Tualatin.

“I definitely think it’s beneficial,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Bieber, who is training director for Clark County deputies and a SWAT leader. “It fills a niche that’s needed, scenario-based training. We’ve been happy with them.”

The complex scenarios that officers interact with inside the company’s five-screen, 300-degree training stage are beneficial because they give officers “stress inoculation,” Bieber said.

Even though they are shooting modified Glock 17 handguns that shoot only lasers in a training setting, it’s stressful enough that deputies learn to think and react quickly -- for when and if they later end up in a real shootout, Bieber said.

Many of the computer-generated, virtual people in the scenarios are armed enemies of police, but not all.

In a training session for eight Camas police officers last week, at least one shot a man who was holding only a cellphone.

Better to make that mistake in training, rather than in real life.

Some people in heavy stress ” freeze up,” with no idea what to do, Bieber said, adding that scenario work can help prevent that, because trained officers have a good idea how to react.

“Under stress, you always revert back to your training,” Bieber said.

Officers still are trained to fire at an enemy’s “center of mass,” including the chest, but trainers in many of the scenarios ask officers to shoot for the adversary’s head.

In situations where an enemy is standing behind a hostage with a weapon to the hostage’s head, officers are trained to consider “instantaneous incapacitation.”