ELKO – Nevada Gold Mines and the Elko Police Department are working together to ensure that local law enforcement officers are well trained in the use of force.
In the midst of a wave of controversial police encounters with criminal suspects around the nation, NGM Executive Managing Director Greg Walker presented a $100,000 check to Elko Police Chief Ty Trouten and Mayor Reece Keener on Wednesday. The money will go toward the purchase of a training simulator that puts officers in situations in which they choose use-of-force options.
Depending on how the officer reacts, an operator can change the scenario, placing the officer in shoot/don’t shoot situations.
“There’s skills in how to use any type of force, whether that’s a firearm or a baton or a Taser, but the hard part to train and prepare someone for it is to be able to use that judgment, and using the right type of force for the situation at hand,” Trouten said.
The training will also help minimize the physiological effects of stress during such real-life encounters, he said. That’s important so the officer can use good judgment and rational thought processes.
The system can be programed with a variety of situations, and evaluate the officer’s responses.
“Nevada Gold Mines is heavily focused on safety, health and our community,” said Walker, “and this project addresses all those three areas. It allows officers to safely experience stressful situations they may face in going throughout their job. It also helps those officers to interact with the community better because they’ve already been exposed to those sort of stresses.”
Trouten said every use of force by officers is subject to review by a quarterly review board.
“What they examine is whether the use of force is within policy procedure, whether it’s under the law correct, and also if it was necessary,” he said. “This tool will allow us to gauge these things and correct any issues that may be present before that force is used on a member of the public.”
The simulator will become a routine part of the city police department’s yearly training processes, but the city also plans to share it.
“We all know here in northeastern Nevada that we’re somewhat remote,” Trouten said. “This is a regional tool for all law enforcement.”
Keener noted that use-of-force disputes have not been an issue in the Elko area.
“We are in a rural area, thankfully, where we love our law enforcement, whether it’s at the federal, state or local level, including the county,” he said. “The public appreciates what they do, the way they put their lives on the line every time they put their badge on.”
Keener said he believes the simulator will be especially helpful for new officers. “It just gives them real-life type experience in a safe environment.”
Trouten said the department is currently awaiting response on a second grant that will provide the remaining funding needed to purchase the simulator.