Written by: Esther Bristol, @EstherBristol

The Rexburg Police Department has purchased a new firearms training simulator with 500 scenarios on handling situations involving guns.

“I would say the main goal is to help train my officers to make good decisions in high-stress situations that would result in their safety, the safety of those people that they’re dealing with and any members of the community that may be around in a high-stress situation,” said Police Chief Shane Turman.

Turman said he hopes the firearms training simulator will better train his officers to be more professional and better able to help citizens in situations such as domestic violence and school shootings.

Turman said 500 scenarios involving firearms can be modified in different ways. He said the simulator goes over most scenarios that law enforcement may be involved in.

The training simulator is a laser computer system that is realistic, according to Rexburg City Council minutes.

“It is an entirely interactive system that uses a computer program, a large screen and very realistic firearms that are loaded with computer chips instead of ammunition,” Turman said in a City Council meeting. “It looks somewhat like a big video game, but it is definitely not a game.”

BYU-Idaho Campus Security’s Director Garth Gunderson said this program helps refine skills officers learned in Police Academy training.

“If you make decisions one way under a simulator and decide that’s not the best way to do it, then in real life, hopefully, you’ll remember that and make better decisions in a real life situation, if it ever happens,” Gilbert said.

Turman said he hopes to be able to offer this program to all of the teachers and faculty in Madison school district in case of school shootings.

Turman said the Police Department is looking to help train security officers and staff at BYU-I using the training simulator.

“We’re hoping for all the teachers in the school district (to have a chance to use it), but we will have to sit down with the school district and work with them on what they would like to do,” Turman said.

Gunderson said he thinks BYU-I is just as likely to have a school shooting as any other university.

“We’re not exempt,” Gunderson said. “You can think of reasons that we should be safe. And it’s a safe community, but we still have people that suffer with mental health issues, we still have people who have access to guns, we have people that just have problems going in life, just like any other university.”

Gunderson said the simulator is quite expensive and small departments often do not have the chance to use them because of this.

“It’s high level training we can’t get otherwise,” Gunderson said.

Turman said there may be a small fee charged for those other than those in the police department who want to use the simulator.

“That may be a possibility because with this system, there are parts that go with the guns and different things that wear out,” Turman said. “We haven’t decided yet, but there may be a small fee that we charge that would just help to cover the costs of repairs.”