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Las Vegas police show use-of-force training techniques

Las Vegas police on Thursday demonstrated use-of-force training scenarios meant to teach officers how to de-escalate situations, keep themselves safe and prevent future fatal shootings.

Uniformed police officers are required to go through Metro’s reality-based training program every year, and the average officer will participate in 20 to 25 hours of training on de-escalation and use of force. The officers are required to go through about 10 scenarios based on situations that have happened in Las Vegas or across the nation, Lt. Andy Henricksen said.

“It allows us to hold them accountable to our expectations that our agency put forward,” Henricksen said.

There are six sergeants and more than 50 officers who assist with the Metropolitan Police Department’s training program, Sgt. Adam Stubbs told reporters Thursday at Metro’s Reality Based Training Center. The officers train multiple squads every week and help them act out scenarios to mimic calls ranging from a belligerent customer at a casino to an active shooter.

The department is getting ready to move into the new training center, 7370 E. Carey Ave., near the agency’s firearms training facility. The project is set to be completed this year and has been funded through private donations, including $4 million from an anonymous donor.

Officers currently run scenarios out of a warehouse that can look like an outdoor courtyard with a basketball hoop, a row of second-floor apartment balconies or the inside of a casino with run-down slot machines.

The officers led journalists through the scenarios on Thursday, one of which simulated a police shooting from last year in which no one was killed, but police exchanged gunfire with a man.

Another scenario was set inside the fake casino and was meant to start with a typical 911 call from a bartender reporting a man passed out at a table. But it ended with participants using a Taser on a role-player who started shoving the fake officers, and then putting him in a recovery position while calling for an ambulance.

Of about 1.48 million events tracked by the department in 2020, less than 1 percent resulted in officers using force, according to a report posted to Metro’s website last month. Use of force can be anything from a physical restraint during an arrest to an officer fatally shooting someone.

There were 19 police shootings in 2020, 10 of which were fatal, according to records maintained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Police have opened fire five times this year and have shot and killed someone twice.

The officers in charge at the Reality Based Training Center also work with the department’s critical incident review team to go over fatal police shootings and adjust training if needed.

“We’re always very critical of what we do and how can we get the best chance for success and safety,” Henricksen said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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