PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Shoot, or don't shoot, those are choices law enforcement officers seem to be making more and more these days. Here in the valley, there are real life consequences to those scenarios.So what goes into the training that police officers have? FOX 10 looked into how the U.S. Marshals prepare for making those split second decisions that can forever change the lives of all involved.
In a split second, you have to decide to open fire, or run for cover. If you open fire, could someone other than your target get hit? If you go for cover will your target get away?
"It's one of those decisions no officer wants to have to make," said Assistant Chief Matt Hershey.
Every day Deputy U.S. Marshals and their task forces hunt down the criminals on the run, desperate to elude capture.
"We have people come across very belligerent, very adamant, they just don't want to go back to jail," said Deputy Marshal Amelia Swenhaugen.
They use a firearms training simulator to prepare.
"They're exercising not only their marksmanship with the weapon but also their decision-making skills. They're seeing a situation and deciding what the threat is and how to appropriately react to the threat," said Ernie Grizzle.
Deputies acted out several real-life scenarios filmed in the valley. During the training, the Marshals are briefed on the fugitive as they would be out in the field. The system records hits and misses; then their instructor analyzes their choices.
In one scenario it was deemed a justifiable shooting.
"Since we know he's already pulled away from us, told people he's not going back to jail, reaching for a weapon despite commands, it could be perfectly justifiable," said Swenhaugen.
There's no instruction manual for these life and death decisions. Just an officer's judgment and training.
"There isn't a specific shoot, or don't shoot. This is when you can because it's a very dynamic situation that has to be in the middle of it you have to make those decisions quickly. That decision has to be made in milliseconds whether or not to use that type of force," said Hershey.