GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (CBS) — It looked and sounded like the real deal – police officers shooting in the middle of a street during a terror plot gone wrong. Fortunately, it was just a training session.
In fact, it was similar to the module that helped U.S. Navy Seals take out Osama Bin Laden and it’s now available to police officers in our area.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole suited up and gave the system a try on Wednesday.
As the bad guys get more sophisticated – and they are – police need to become better prepared.
This first-of-its-kind, high-tech center in the western suburbs – a proving ground in tactical response – promises to do just that.
The armed robbery playing out was equal parts Hollywood set, police academy and Laser Tag on steroids.
“This is how we train in law enforcement,” said West Chicago Police Sgt. Stephen Laub. “The use of cover inside the building is essential, just the fact it is a real weapon with real noises makes for a realistic experience.”
Laub was among the first officers to undergo training in the high-tech tactical village at the College of DuPage’s new Homeland Security Education Center, the only center of its kind outside the military.
“It is very much a classroom,” said Brooks Davis, from Cubic Defense Applications – which developed the system. “This type of system enables law enforcement to do the high fidelity training the military has been doing for years.”
Each automatic weapon used at the facility has been modified to shoot both blanks and a focused laser beam. Sensors in the vests record when an officer has been hit and more than 30 cameras record the officers’ every move
“It allows officers to review their techniques and positions,” Davis said.
Gerasole suited up to give the system a try. His team targeted a pair of bank robbers, not knowing their next move. Officer Gerasole was “killed” in a matter of seconds, but local departments know the real pros can learn lessons here to eventually save lives.
“There’s nothing like this in the country that I am aware of that we can expose our officers to — with it in our back door it is an opportunity,” said North Aurora Police Chief David Summer.
Wednesday’s exercise was patterned after a real bank robbery in California. The real officers fired handguns and rifles and took 45 minutes to get the situation under control.
The system helped authorities know they needed stronger firepower and, in their tests with automatic weapons, officers typically resolve the situation in a third of that time or less.