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Cape Town law enforcement utilises high-tech firearm simulator to enhance officer training

Azra Hoosen |
26 April 2024 | 13:00 CAT
2 min read

The City of Cape Town is incorporating technology to enhance the training of its law enforcement officers. They introduced a firearm simulator, closely resembling a video game, to immerse officers in diverse simulated environments. This aims to sharpen their split-second decision-making skills regarding the appropriate use of legal force.

The simulator facilitates better training for new recruits by utilising specially adapted firearms that closely mimic the appearance and feel of weapons issued to enforcement personnel.

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith elaborates on the simulator training in an interview with Radio Islam.

Smith explained that they possess two simulators, each equipped with three large screens and projectors that display immersive images, effectively enveloping the officer. This setup ensures that the screen extends into the officer’s peripheral vision. Additionally, cameras monitor the trainee’s actions, while an instructor console enables the selection of scenarios and the ability to control, escalate, or de-escalate the situation as needed during training sessions.

“The officer is never sure how the situation will end. This is not just about training officers to be accurate with firearms, because you can use just as a simulator for shooting accuracy but also on the handling of the firearm and appropriate use of lethal force so he/she can practice scenarios where they might have to use lethal force or deescalate the situation. When it happens to them in real life, they have this practice and training. He can understand what is right or wrong and fair or unfair in terms of law,” he said.

According to Smith, the simulator offers approximately 700 distinct scenarios encompassing various response situations and environments. These scenarios are designed to provide trainees with a comprehensive range of challenges and experiences to enhance their decision-making abilities and preparedness for real-world situations.

“These are all American, set in US cities, and use English. As soon as we can, we will try to develop some of our own scenarios that include informal settlements and actors who speak in South African languages to improve the scenario’s authenticity,” he added.

Smith emphasized that previously when the training resources were limited, they faced constant pressure to maximize officer training output within the constraints of available budgets.

“Due to limited college capacity, we trained only on bare essentials before putting the officers on the ground, but about two years ago, we got significant additional funding and expanded on the training our college could do,” he said.

Smith emphasized a shift towards prioritizing soft skills, ensuring officers comprehend their role within society. This approach emphasizes the importance of winning the trust and support of the community rather than adopting a militaristic policing stance.

“This now adds another dimension to competency which will get worked into our curricula. We have also included fitness training,” he said.

Smith expressed optimism that the simulator will significantly enhance officers’ capacity to make quick, effective decisions, ultimately preserving lives.

LISTEN to the full interview with Ml Junaid Kharsany and JP Smith, CoTC mayoral committee member for safety and security, here.


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