“Tactical Edge” Brings Realistic Training To Officers

Steve Cooper is striving to immerse law enforcement officers into real life scenarios to train their judgment.
Tactical Edge Training Services owner Steve Cooper said the Meggitt L7 training equipment uses wireless Bluetooth technology in adapted firearms, patrol rifles, pepper spray, tasers and a flashlight module to use with interactive video. Cooper said this equipment has been available to rent since February because the cost to purchase the equipment is prohibiting to many departments.
“Officers are being judged for what they do,” Cooper said. “We want the mistakes to happen here.”
The Meggitt equipment includes 250 real life simulated scenarios. A few of these include: first responder, bank robbery and lessons learned category that consists of real life examples where police were involved with “bad shoots.” Cooper said the videos are becoming more sophisticated and a Ferguson scenario will be added to this category within the year.
Cooper said departments could purchase this equipment or could rent the equipment for a day, or even for weeks. Once a scenario is selected, there are different variables that come into play. An officer could experience the same scene with three different outcomes depending on the officer’s decision making and the instructor’s choices during the scenario. The scenes can escalate or de-escalate.
Cooper enaged in a scenario where there was a child being held hostage and a woman screaming for an officer. 
“Let the child go,” Cooper commanded at the projected screen. “Get on your knees.”
During this scene, the perpetrator refused to listen to the officer, so Cooper had no choice but to shoot.
“You want the officer to interact [in the scenario],” Cooper said. “It will turn into a video game if they don’t.”
Throughout the entire situation, everything is being monitored so the officer can review their shot analytics, weapon status and trigger pressure. 
“You can’t replicate this kind of training,” Cooper said. “It’s just impossible.”    
Cooper said this type of training changes depending on the department and its location. He said each department trains within its guidelines and what may be acceptable in one city, may not be somewhere else.
“We want to teach the officer to take the use of force only where it needs to go,” Cooper said. “As they back down, we back down.”
Cooper said multiple officers can participate in a scenario at once, but it is most effective when only one or two officers are engaged at a time.
“In most of the Midwest departments, you’re out there one your own,” Cooper said. “That judgment is so important, it’s what we’re trying to train.”
This equipment is not only for law enforcement training, but it can also be used for civilian training. One of these scenarios includes a bank robbery. Another use for this equipment is for marksmanship, which Cooper said, is valuable to visual learners. These trainings include pistol training, active shooter engagement, team building, gun safety and more. The equipment displays trace analytics, gun movement and trigger jerking.
“We’re not wasting bullets, and I can teach children and young shooters,” Cooper said. “It’s a nice safe way to involve a younger generation.”
Cooper said the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department is the only department using this equipment on a yearly basis. The Warsaw Police Department is scheduled for a demonstration this morning and the state police have requested a demonstration as well. He said the feedback from law enforcement has been positive.
“So far it’s been awesome, and the departments have said this is the most realistic training that they have had opportunity to use,” Cooper said.  “Those who haven’t used machines before see the practicality.”
Cooper said this is the only equipment that is completely wireless and he isn’t competing with anyone else. He said he does everything to make the situation become real. He said he has added barrels, mailboxes and post office boxes for officers to use to really engage in a scenario. 
“I think the way the world is going, this type of training isn’t going to be optional much longer,” Cooper said. 
For any questions, Cooper can be contacted at 574-849-6858, www.tacticaledgeps.com or Steve@tacticaledgeps.com

(Story By The Times Union)