Lawmakers learn about police work through firearms training system | Kent County Daily Hours

WEST WARWICK — The Rhode Island House speaker stood in front of a large screen on Saturday morning, his hand resting on the tactical belt at his waist. Joseph Shekarchi wasn’t sure how the video scenario projected before him would play out, and he had to be ready for anything.

“I always had a thirst for knowledge, and it was a good learning experience for me,” Shekarchi said after completing his time with the firearms training system. “I’ve always had great esteem and respect for the police, but this has given me an even higher esteem and respect for them.”

Shekarchi was one of about 10 lawmakers from across Rhode Island to participate in the training, which was held Friday and Saturday at the West Warwick Youth Policing Center — all state officials and senators were invited to try out the virtual training system.

The event was organized by Dist. 25 Rep. Tom Noret, with assistance from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, the West Warwick Police Department, training officers from the West Greenwich and Providence Police Departments, and the RI Interlocal Risk Management Trust. AJ’s restaurant provided food and other refreshments.

Noret and Richard Ramsay, who served for 23 years with the West Warwick Police Department before being appointed West Greenwich Police Chief, had for some time toyed with the idea of ​​organizing this type of training for members of the General Assembly, they said on Saturday. .

Legislators are responsible for developing laws and public policies related to law enforcement training, Noret said, and are therefore expected to understand issues such as the use of force and the handling of firearms.

“With this experience, lawmakers will have a better understanding of how law enforcement officers should be trained and tested on their ability to judge a situation and make a life or death decision,” said he declared.

Noret, who retired from policing in 2012 after serving 20 years with the Coventry Police Department, said his hope was to give fellow lawmakers a taste of what police officers should To do.

The RI Interlocal Risk Management Trust’s firearms training system is used to train officers “to focus, concentrate and respond appropriately to sudden changes in circumstances” while they assess the level of strength needed to handle a given situation. situation, according to the trust’s website.

The system could also be useful for educating elected officials about the situations officers face, Noret suggested.

“The firearms training system should be used as a tool by lawmakers to give them a better understanding of what the law enforcement officer goes through,” he said, “and how even a routine call can go wrong”.

Representatives and senators who participated were placed in scenarios ranging from a routine traffic stop turned violent to the scene of an active shooting incident.

In one scenario, participants had to react as a man walked quickly towards them during a domestic violence call; in another, they supported their partner as he addressed an emotionally disturbed person who, as it turned out, had a knife.

Wearing belts containing a simulated firearm, taser and pepper spray, lawmakers had to make split-second decisions every time that, in reality, could mean life or death for themselves or for others.

Depending on their actions, different outcomes are played on the screen.

“They may know what I did, but I want them to see what I did,” Noret said of his time in law enforcement, while Rep. Karen Alzate was preparing to take his turn with the simulator. “I want them to understand that.”

And using the firearms training system allows lawmakers to do so in a safe and controlled environment, he added.

With the tactical belt strapped around her waist, Alzate was ready to answer her first call.

“Pretend you’re a cop,” Noret told him, as a representative from the Interlocal Trust prepared to play the first video script, a domestic disturbance call in an apartment complex.

Noret asked Alzate to interact with the people on screen – to tell them to “put the gun down”, for example, or to say “ma’am, can you come here and talk to me”.

Alzante represents District 60 in Pawtucket, where, she said, “the police force isn’t very diverse, but the community is.” For her, putting herself in the shoes of a police officer, even if it was only a simulation, was an opportunity to gain perspective which will be invaluable to her as a legislator, especially when she examines bills related to law enforcement or firearms.

“I think it’s not something for everyone,” she said. “I think it’s interesting for me to experience a bit of what they’ve been through and what the police do on a daily basis, because I think it’s best to be informed that way.”

Indeed, Noret had hoped that after trying out the firearms training system, legislators might make better-informed decisions on certain legislative issues.

“I want everyone to have the opportunity, while we’re making these decisions, to see what we decide,” he said.

[email protected]

Comments are closed.