The simulator at North Dakota’s Law Enforcement Training Academy is the newest technology to prepare the state’s soon-to-be law enforcement officers for a career with no room for error.
“We don’t get to do it wrong. We have to do it right 100 percent of the time. We don’t have malpractice insurance so to speak. The training aspect is the most important part of a law enforcement career,” Lt. Daniel Haugen said. He’s the Training Director for North Dakota’s Law Enforcement Training Academy and Highway Patrol.
The interactive training puts them in stressful, real-life scenarios, to develop de-escalation skills, decision-making and threat assessment — plus a chance to practice one of the most important parts of the job.
“If anything I’ve known in my years, it’s good communication will normally deescalate a lot of situations. You just want to speak with individuals, treat them right, don’t talk down to them,” Sgt. Wade Kadrmas, who’s the safety and education officer for the state’s Highway Patrol, said.
It’s not just the simulator that’s new. Driving training has been expanded too — with Pursuit Intervention Technique, or PIT, being taught for car chases. Prior to the facility being built in Bismarck, that training was held in various locations across North and South Dakota, and there was no adequate emergency vehicle driving training in the state like there is now.
With officers making split-second choices every day, the training and facility upgrades aim to help better prepare those for a challenging career.
“Law enforcement isn’t an easy career. It’s full of very important decisions all day long,” Haugen said.
The 2019 legislature approved the roughly $1.7 million in funding for the simulator as well as a new training room, restrooms and an entryway.