OVERBROOK, Kan. (WIBW) - Police Chief Terry Hollingsworth might be the only full-time officer in Overbrook, but he’s taking his community through the top police training.
Overbrook City Council member, Joanne Allen, is part of that community. She wants to be ready for action. So, she’s grasping a simulator gun and moving through a series of virtual scenarios, scenes she hopes to never see in reality.
“All of a sudden you realize that it’s either you, or the other person and hopefully it’s the other person,” Allen said.
Life or death scenarios are part of MILO range training, an interactive simulation exercise. Trainees go through a variety of officer-involved scenes ranging from a car-jacking to a school shooting. With over 1,800 outcomes, officers must decide whether to use force or not.
“It gets their feet wet without actually being in that situation,” said Hollingsworth. “This is all simulated, out there it’s not, it’s the real deal and if they can keep your composure here I think it will help them back out on the field.”
Overbrook, a population just over 1,000, has 6 part time officers in addition to the Chief. Hollingsworth knows these violent situations don’t happen every day but he doesn’t want his officers overlooking their city.
“The worst word out there is routine,” said Hollingsworth. “Routine traffic stops, routine alarm calls. That’s when we get complacent and that’s when we end up hurt.”
While MILO is usually used by law enforcement agencies, Hollingsworth invited his community to see through the eyes of a police officer and fight, what he feels, is the public perspective.
“The public just sees the worst side of what we do,” Hollingsworth said.
A 2017 study from the Pew Research Center found, 83% of people say they understand the challenges police face, only 14% of officers say the public truly knows.
“It’s kind of scary in a way to see what our officers have to go through,” said Allen. “They have split second decisions to make and to see if first hand on a screen and try to do it yourself really brings it to the forefront.”
Hollingsworth hopes his community will better understand the decisions police officers make.
“I think that when people see this type of training and go through it, there’s a better understanding of what we go through and many, many times we have to make a split second decision rather to use force or not to use force,” Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth admits the training is predominantly for his part time officers, but he’s happy his city officials are better prepared for the worst.
“If you can train and be ready for that whether it’s less than lethal or lethal force,” said Hollingsworth. “You’re ahead of the game.”
MILO training is used for government, military, law enforcement and police agencies world-wide. The Overbook police force had the system for a week.