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NYPD Invites Reporters To Mock Firearms Training

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On Friday the NYPD tried to teach reporters just how difficult policing can be. NY1’s Criminal Justice reporter Solana Pyne talks about training in the firearms simulator.

It started out as a call about a man acting suspiciously. Then that man pulled out an AK 47. In real life, two officers died in just such a scenario, but on Friday, four reporters made it out just fine.

They fired dozens of shots in well under a minute -- just across the street from two innocent bystanders and a day care center. And, the NYPD hopes, in the process learned a little bit about the tough choices an officer has to make in moments when deciding whether to shoot.

"An officer may have a couple seconds to make a decision whether to pull the trigger of a firearm or not,” explained NYPD Firearms Instructor Gil Muirhead. “And if he pulls it and he's wrong he's going to suffer that consequence and he knows it. Or if he doesn't and if he's wrong again, now maybe he ends his life."

The tour came a day after Police Commissioner Kelly announced that he is bringing in a private firm to evaluate weapons tactics and training, in an effort to address criticism following the November 25th shooting that killed Sean Bell on what was to be his wedding day.

Nobody discussed that shooting during the trip to the range. But the instructors repeatedly emphasized how the training is designed to teach officers how to respond in stressful situations, ideally without firing a shot.

They bring new recruits to “the village” where instructors act out scenarios like burglaries and suspicious persons, typical things they might meet on the job.

“We're going to look for the mistakes,” said NYPD Firearms Instructor Michael Harris. “We're going to try to work with that. We're going to correct the mistakes that they have made. We're going to show them how to do these things properly. We're going to show them how to handle the jobs before they get out on the street.”

Instructors said the training is more elaborate than that given to most other officers across the country. And the police commissioner says he is committed to doing even more, if the study he's commissioned recommends it.

- Solana Pyne
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