Western MA law enforcement train for active shooter calls - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western MA law enforcement train for active shooter calls

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It's part of a national historical site and one of the oldest buildings in Springfield but it houses some of the newest technology being used by law enforcement - the Springfield Police Academy's version of virtual reality.

"The MILO system is a computer-generated interactive training tool that allows us to enhance training that there's no other way to get to," said Officer Sean Shattuck with the Holyoke Police Department, and trainer on the MILO range.

Shattuck and Pittsfield police officer Niki Gaynor have been teaching at the academy for years.

In the confines of a simple room in the basement of the building, they give both recruits and veteran officers some of their most valuable law enforcement training.

"This gives them the opportunity to have firsthand knowledge and actually physically do things, use their voice commands, use their presence," Shattuck said. 

The high-tech system stores around 1,000 situations any police officer could face while on duty.

"When they come in here, they're literally thrown onto the hot coals because that's what police work is," Shattuck said. 

It seems this technology is needed now more than ever.

Nearly one year after a shooter terrorized the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary school, law enforcement across the country have continued to respond to active shooter calls.

Several weeks ago, dozens of police responded to a school in Sparks, NV where a middle school student is accused of opening fire and killing a teacher.

Just today students and faculty were forced indoors in New Britain, CT after a man was reported carrying a gun wearing a mask around the campus of Central Connecticut State University.

They're situations every police officer hopes they don't ever have to respond to.

But with technology like the MILO range, which can replicate a school-shooting scenarios and many other types of incidents, they're better prepared if that call comes.

"We try to raise their adrenaline rate up, we try to make them feel stress, we try to make them get the full value of training out of what this does," Shattuck said.

Sgt. Mark Baran with the South Hadley police department walked CBS 3 Springfield through what the cadets are faced with when coming into the MILO room.

A projector displays the real-life scenario on the wall, the officer grips a gun armed with a laser instead of bullets, and shouts commands as if he's truly responding to the call.

Afterwards, there's a debriefing.

"We make them articulate what they did and explain to us why they did it…it forces them to think from A to Z what they would do on a call," said Officer Niki Gaynor. 

A scenario playing out of an alarm call can be changed from a peaceful routine response that's resolved, to a lethal call with an armed intruder.

Even for an experienced police veteran like Sgt. Baran, there's stress involved with this type of training.

"Definitely gets the heart rate going, there's definitely some intensity to it," he said. 

But it's so important that officers face that intensity inside this room before they step out onto the streets.

"It provides the experience that they're going to need out on the street," Baran said. 

"You start your day, you drive around, and all of a sudden you pull up on a scene and it's out of control and you have to respond," Shattuck said. 

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