PBSO uses virtual simulator to train deputies when to shoot, when not to

Deciding whether to shoot or not shoot is a split second decision officers and deputies have little time to make.

That's why the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office invested in a virtual simulator to put deputies in real life situations.

The simulator is at their training complex. WPTV NewsChannel 5 and The Palm Beach Post asked to be able to see how the training is done as part of the joint investigation into police shootings.

Deputies are required to complete the training with the various scenarios once a year.

"Basically, it is a virtual world that becomes real to them," Cpl. Michael Johnson said.

Johnson works in the simulator training deputies.

"There is no cookie cutter where I can say every single time you have to do this or you have to do that. Things in the environment change," Cpl. Johnson said.

The scenarios are constantly changing and evolving.

They include active shooter situations, hostage situations, and even one scenario where a young child points a rifle at deputies.

"If you're not confident in your skills or your ability, a lot of people have trouble. They will let it play out and see what happens...but sometimes that is too late," Cpl. Johnson said.

Everyone reacts differently to the situations.

"The person's personality plays a role in it. The weapons have a role in it. The environment has a role in it. There is no black or white. There is a lot of gray," Cpl. Johnson said.

Real guns with lasers are used in the simulator.

After every training session, trainers go through what the deputies did right and what they did wrong.