F.A.T.S. Training Gets Officers Ready for Life and Death Encounters

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS12) - You have only a second to make a life or death decision--in a video game, you can hit reset, if you're a police officer you don't have that luxury.
However, something very similar to a video game is helping police make critical decisions.  The Sikeston Department of Public Safety has a new system on loan from the FBI.  It's called a F.A.T.S. machine or Fire Arms Training Simulator.
"There are many different variables that go into making a decision that can be dragged out in court for days," said Sgt. Jim McMillen.  McMillen says this training is especially timely in light of recent officer involved shootings in the Heartland.
"This is the cloest possible training to making those decisions, instead of having to make them on the streets," said Sgt. McMillen.
The machine, similar to a video game, takes officers through a variety of possible scenarios.  They examine the environment, and decide whether or not to react -- whether or not to shoot.
"If they locate a weapon, the officer will disarm the person," said Sgt. Keith Brown.
Officers explain their intent is not to kill, but to eliminate the threat while protecting themselves and the public.
"Every call, we never know what we're dealing with," said Sgt. Brown.
Officers say they are often questioned by the public why they don't try to shoot a suspect in the hand, or leg, like they do on television.  They say there's just no time when their job is to serve and protect.
"Everybody needs to understand the decisions we make are life and death in a minimum amount of time we have to make them," said Sgt. McMillen. "Officers may make a mistake, sometimes it may be justified even though it may not appear so to the average citizen.
Every officer goes through the training at no cost to the department.