GRPD adding children to video training scenarios

Grand Rapids
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A large video screen in a training room at Grand Rapids police headquarters shows a backyard brawl.

Two Grand Rapids police officers approach the video screen as if they just got the call of a domestic disturbance. The screen shows an argument between two men develop into a wrestling match and eventually a fight that results in one man being knocked unconscious.

The two officers called to the scene have to make decisions based on a series of split-second observations: Is anyone armed? Will bystanders get in the way? Just how big a threat is the guy with the big mouth?

“What, do you want some too?!” the belligerent suspect in the video yells, starting toward the officers.

In less than 30 seconds, officers decide to use the law enforcement version of pepper spray on the suspect. The problem neutralized. The video ends.

GRPD has used this kind of video training in one form or another for nearly 20 years. It allows officers to develop alternatives for de-escalating a situation.

But none of the available scenarios in the current system, called the MILO Range Training System, involve incidents where children are present.

Officers faced that situation in real life in December. The images of Grand Rapids police officers handcuffing a screaming 11-year-old Honestie Hodges while they searched for an attempted murder suspect are still fresh in the minds of many in the community.

GRPD Chief David Rahinksy promised a number of policy and training changes in the wake of the incident. Adding scenarios involving children to the department’s video training simulator is the latest.

“We’re giving that exposure to our officers of handling children, scenarios involving children. That just gives them more tools when they hit the streets,” GRPD Sgt. Cathy Williams said.

GRPD hopes it’s also one more step in avoiding future problems.

“We’re always looking to get better, and we can always do better,” Williams said.

City commissioners are expected to give final approval to spend just under $10,000 to create programing for up to 10 scenarios involving children.

After approval comes through, GRPD hopes to have the new scenarios mixed into the system within the next 90 days.

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