Westfield Police officers sharpen skills with de-escalating simulator

Hampden County

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Imagine a person running through the streets, pointing a gun at bystanders and police. That’s exactly what happened earlier this week in Springfield and it’s that type of scenario Westfield Police officers are training for.

“Training is serious,” said Chief Lawrence Valliere of the Westfield Police Department. “We need to have more of it. We are more than willing to get better.”

In the real-life Springfield situation, officers managed to arrest the man without incident. That’s due in part to training like the one provided by The Gun Parlor of Worcester. The gun shop’s mobile range can be brought to any police department and has hundreds of trainings focused on decision making, shooter accuracy, and de-escalation.

According to Justin Gabriel, owner and president of The Gun Parlor, the goal of this simulator training is to give officers a better idea of when not to use force – and how to make quick and accurate decisions.

Officers walk into the mobile gun range, a 53 feet trailer, and they are tested on several scenarios where they need to deescalate the situations that they may encounter while they are working. Each participant is equipped with their on-duty gear which includes a gun or taser.

“An officer doesn’t want to be put into harm’s way as well as the civilian they are responding to,” said Gabriel. “So for them being able to deescalate the situation and be able to understand what it’s like to be able to voice the commands and run through a scenario without it being real life, this is an excellent training module.”

“It’s just going to help ensure that the decisions that our officers are making out there,” said Chief Valliere. “That they are reasonable, balanced, and proportionate to the situations that they are in.”

“The Westfield Police Department would like to formally thank the two city residents who funded this training. City Councilor Jim Adams of Firtion-Adams Funeral Services and Tom Daly, owner of Oasis Shower Doors in Feeding Hills. Their generosity and commitment to the betterment of our department is remarkable and greatly appreciated,” said Chief Valliere.

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