GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Scott County Sheriff's Office is training with simulation technology to help them prepare for escalated situations that may require use of force or tactical judgement.
The Washington Post has tracked every fatal shooting in the United States by an on-duty police officer since 2015. In Kentucky, they report 114 people were shot and killed by police since then. The latest happened five days ago.
It can be easy to question why.
Deputy Chad Karsner with the Scott County Sheriff's Office says most of the time, officer involved shootings happen unexpectedly. He says he and officers like him are constantly making life-altering decisions within split seconds.
"You can show up to motor assist on the interstate, someone be armed you don't know, they could be passed out behind the wheel having some type of psychotic episode, or some type of excited delirium," explained Karsner.
Nearly every day they encounter the unexpected. This week they're training on the MILO Firearms Simulation. It prompts law enforcement to respond to scenarios they may encounter in the field. From domestic violence calls to traffic stops, each challenge Deputies with outcomes they didn't expect.
They opened their shooting simulation to LEX 18 to show exactly that's like.
In one scenario, a man brandished a large knife, held up traffic, then rushed toward the Deputy. In another a woman hit a gun under her leg during a traffic stop and pulled another gun from her sun visor.
Deputy Karsner had to decide whether to use his tazer, gun, pepper spray, or nothing at all within seconds. He stayed calm.
"Sir don't you do that, don't you that sir. Look at me, look at me, drop the knife. Drop the knife, I'm going to help you," Karsner said while trying to deescalate a situation.
There were a few times where he acted too late and could have cost himself his life.
"Most officer involved shootings are captured in one way or another. We've unfortunately seen officers who have hesitated in making the right decisions, because they didn't want to be aggressive. They didn't want to seem like they were scared in this situation...or they didn't want to go viral," said Sgt. Eddie Hart.
The situations escalated very quickly, and participants don't have a lot of time to respond. Karsner said it felt extremely real.
"Part of the stress that comes with that is second guessing yourself a lot of times. I've for years, I've done an internal debrief sort of in my head. For most contacts that end up with situations like where we have to use force in every circumstance, I've gone through my head like what could I do better the next time, or how could I have done things differently. What could I have said to make this person feel more at ease," said Karsner.
They also let LEX 18 give it a try. Reporter Christiana Ford struggled to anticipate what would happen.
In a perfect scenario, participants would always have to make the right decisions and be able to contemplate the best choice in the moment, which can be difficult to do in the real-world.
"We're trying to make sure we don't make mistakes, but we are human, and as you can see from these scenarios that you've seen already, these scenarios are quick. There's many different factors going on, and we are human, and we are prone to sometimes make mistakes," said Hart.
They're hoping continued training like the MILO helps them avoid life-altering mistakes and helps the community understand their side of picture.