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Simulator benefits police, students alike

PLATTSBURGH Representatives of the local law enforcement community were invited to Clinton Community College to observe the Firearms Training Simulator, also known as FATS, in action Jan. 9. Plattsburgh City Police Department possessed the machine for several years, but a shortage of available space limited its usefulness. Space was recently made available for FATS in the annex of the colleges George Moore Building. In the future, all local law enforcement organizations will have convenient access to the training system. John Mockry, Clinton Community Colleges criminal justice program coordinator, noted the college has 150 students enrolled in its criminal justice program. This is the first physical contact in terms of partnership between the college and the local law enforcement community, said Mr. Mockry, who called Jan. 9 an historic day. Mr. Mockry called the relocation of the simulator phase one, with an ideal phase two having the police academy here in our education program. A police academy is a training program for newly-hired sheriffs department and municipal police department personnel. The Plattsburgh City Police Department has historically conducted the classes every 12 to 18 months at the city police station. FATS is a computer-generated training system. Trainers can project some 5,000 lethal and non-lethal scenarios on a large screen. A police officer must react to situations as they are presented. Plattsburgh Police Chief Desmond Racicot explained, The person who is running the machine can cause any situation to escalate or deescalate. Jimmie McCoy, an instructor trainer for system manufacturer Firearms Training Systems Inc., demonstrated the machine by depicting a high school hostage-taking scenario. Assuming the role of the police officer, Mr. McCoy decided what verbal commands to give to the students and the hostage-taker and if and when to use deadly force. When he fired his pistol, Mr. McCoy felt the recoil and the system measured his shooting accuracy. In a second scenario, the system was used as a target practice tool. Mr. McCoy fired his pistol at several targets and the system measured his accuracy, trigger pressure and recoil anticipation. Recoil anticipation is what destroys marksmanship, Mr. McCoy remarked. When FATS detects recoil anticipation, the problem can usually be corrected and shooting accuracy greatly improves. In addition to the Plattsburgh department, police agencies viewing the FATS demonstration included the New York State Police, the state Department of Environmental Conservation Police, the Department of Homeland Security, the Clinton County Sheriffs Department, the Lake Placid Police Department and State University of New York at Plattsburgh Police. Each department or agency will have its own trainer and will be able to schedule convenient training times at the CCC facility.

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