Pro-Police Group Launches Online Simulator to Sensitize Public About Use-of-Force

By Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.
December 9, 2021 Updated: December 9, 2021

A police defense organization has launched an online simulator tool which it says is meant to place the participant “in the shoes” of a law enforcement officer responding to a dangerous situation.

The police simulator called “Decision Points” is a product of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) and uses body-cam footage captured by officers responding to calls.

The simulation is akin to watching videos of police actions, but at crucial moments the user comes to “decision points” where he needs to apply his judgement to take the appropriate measure, which can include use of lethal force.

“It raises the public consciousness. It raises the need for the public to understand why the officers may have done what they did,” LELDF President Jason Johnson told Fox News. “[Users] can learn some new information about how officers are trained to respond and why. This, we think, will reduce some of the harmful misunderstandings of law enforcement.”

The LELDF is an advocacy group that provides support to police officers who have been charged with crimes while performing their duties.

The group has so far posted two simulations on its website and in a few minutes they demonstrate how difficult it can be to make a split-second life-and-death decision.

How the Simulator Works

In one of the simulations, officers respond to a call about a man who pointed a firearm at someone. After locating the suspect and identifying that he is carrying a gun, the officers start chasing the suspect and ask him to drop the weapon. At one point the suspect holds the gun to his head, which leads to the first “decision point.”

The participant is asked if the officer should either a) use a taser; b) follow the suspect and continue to talk; or c) wait for the mental health team.

The simulator says the correct answer is to keep following the suspect. “He isn’t pointing the gun at you, and there is still time to talk him down. Attempt to find cover,” explains the simulation.

Additional feedback is available in short videos after the simulations with LELDF police practices expert Sergeant William Gleason discussing various subjects such as the threat posed by knives and why police officers might fire a high number of rounds in a shooting incident.

The Decision Points simulator comes about in the context of anti-law enforcement pressures of recent months, that take shape in movements such as those that want to “defund the police” or abolish it altogether.

While these have gained traction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, a number of jurisdictions have since had to reverse course in the face of mounting crime.

Those critical of police in general, or of police brutality in particular, point to the number of people killed by police each year in the United States, and say that black people are being targeted disproportionately.

The Mapping Police Violence project says that police have killed 978 people in 2021, with 27 percent of those killed being black despite accounting for 13 percent of the population.

Researchers like Heather Mac Donald counter that the overwhelming majority of police encounters are non-violent and she uses other data to interpret the issue.

“That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects,” Mac Donald wrote in the Wall Street Journal not long after Floyd’s death.

“In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”

On the law enforcement side, a police organization is reporting an increase in the killing and ambushing of officers this year.

The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) reported (pdf) early December that 314 officers were shot in the line of duty so far this year, of which 58 were killed by gunfire. Last year a total of 312 were shot and 47 were killed.

The FOP also said officers were caught in 95 ambush-style attacks (a rise of 126 percent from 2020), which led to 119 officers being shot, 28 of which were killed.

“There is no doubt that the recent erosion of respect for law enforcement has fueled more aggression towards police officers than what has been seen in previous years,” FOP president Patrick Yoes told Fox News.

Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.