(BEDFORD) – For the next three days, officers at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department are participating in the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) training.
EVOC is designed to review critical concepts of emergency driving. It teaches navigation and route planning, places the officer in normal and high risk driving situations and teaches them the appropriate driving skills for those situations. Officers also learn how to negotiate routine traffic, hazardous weather conditions, and hazardous traffic conditions and must use quick-thinking and response skills to protect themselves, their fellow officers, pedistrians, and other motorists on the roadways.
The State of Indiana mandates officers to complete two hours of EVOC training every year. After completing this training, each LCPD officer will have four hours completed.
“EVOC provides time to practice and learn in a controlled environment but yet provide realistic situations,” said Capt. Chris Roberts, who assist training officers. “It allows us to throw situations at our officers that we can’t do with real vehicles or people. Some motorists panic when they see and hear our lights and sirens. You just don’t know what they will do – if they will pull in front of you, not stop, or cause an accident. These are real situations officers may face while responding to a call.”
Capt. Roberts sets up computer scenarios officers might face, from responding to an armed robbery, violent domestic situation, heavy snowstorm, to a tire blowing out on the vehicle while responding to a call, a pedestrian walking in front of a patrol car or vehicles failing to yield to the officer’s lights and sirens and others.
“You never know what you will face when responding to a call but these are possible situations we may face every day,” Sgt. Roberts added. “The simulator throws out different scenarios during the exercise. During the exercise, one minute you are driving along at 70 to 75 miles per hour responding to a domestic situation then heavy fog will set in just like we face here when crossing the river bridge.”
Today, Operational Manager for 1340 WBIW, Litefm 102.5 WPHZ, and SuperOldies 105.5 WQRK, Jeremy Newbold, participated in the training to see what officers deal with while on duty.
Newbold started by driving through different weather conditions. The computer then changed the scenarios as he responded going from light snow to heavy snowfall. While responding to an accident, the call changed to someone being injured. He drove to a possible drug deal that changed to shots fired and a burglary in progress. The suspect fled starting a pursuit.
“I got to see how people react differently to sirens when cops are en route to an emergency,” Newbold said. “This really shows you how quick their reactions need to be. It was different then I thought it would be. I thought everyone would pull over or stop what they are doing for sirens but that doesn’t happen.”
“It did make me nervous from knowing I had to get to the situation fast but needed to be responsive to weather conditions and the reactions from others on the road,” Newbold added. ” I feel my senses were heightened a little bit from having to be fully aware of what was going on.”
“I play a lot of video games that are driving based and thought it would be similar to that,” says Newbold. ” This was a lot more real-life training than video games could be. I believe this training will save lives and give a person a little more knowledge of how to handle a situation in a controlled environment.”
Training Officers Major Gregg Taylor says the training was paid for with funds from a JAG Byrne Officer Safety and Wellness grant.
Capt. Roberts says officers will fail the scenarios.
“But this is where we want them to make the mistakes instead of causing thousands of dollars in damage in a real crash or something worse,” he added. “We use this as a teachable moment and have them do the scenario again until they get it right.”
Next week officers will participate in the use of force training.