Less lethalWhen officers encounter a situation that doesn't require tac teams or deadly force, they can use less lethal weapons and tactics. The Oklahoma City Police Department has 158 tasers and 35 bean bag shotguns in the field and officers must take training courses that are more about decision-making than actually firing the weapons. "It gives us something between lethal and verbal confrontation,” said Master Sgt. Bruce Webster, who teaches city police officers when and how to use less lethal weapons. "We're simply looking for just a change in behavior,” Webster said. "If he's swinging a hoe or a rake and we hit him with a taser and he stands in place, that gives us our opportunity to move in and take him down.” Webster said officers are trained to avoid shooting the spine when firing tasers and bean bag shotguns, instead focusing on the legs and arms. "It's a non-Hollywood hit,” he said.
Not your average gameOklahoma City police employ a computer-based training device called FATS, Firearms Training System, which uses a laser-guided handgun and a large video screen to train officers in use-of-force judgment. The instructor controls what the characters on the screen do and requires trainees to interact with the virtual characters and make the split-second decisions that are the difference between saving a life or losing one. "It's difficult to think, speak and coordinate your actions at one time,” Ellis said. "We teach how to with FATS.” In one scenario, the trainee is dispatched to a domestic disturbance where a wife is reported to have stabbed her husband. The intoxicated woman exits the house and verbally threatens the training officer, then reaches into her back pocket and produces — a whiskey bottle. The trainee fails the drill if shots are fired. "When we talk about weapons, people think it's about shooting and it's about killing people and it's about stuff you see in Hollywood. It's not,” Ellis said.