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'It's the world we live in now': Simulator helps Stafford deputies train for mass shootings

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) -- Deputy Randall Pinkard runs towards the action, as screams echo down hallways in the distance. 

Pinkard has responded to countless calls during his year with the Stafford County Sheriff's Office, but this is one he will definitely remember. 

"That's what we are going for, the realism, make it feel like it's real," explains Training First Sergeant Joe Bice.

With Bice in command, Pinkard is immersed in an active school shooting with 300 degrees of screen and surround sound.

"A lot of times you'll see that they've started to sweat, their heart rate is elevated, their breathing faster than they normally would," Bice describes.

The sheriff's office bought this specialized simulator last August with confiscated money.

It allows deputies to prepare for scenarios they could not otherwise recreate, like shootings at schools, movie theaters and office buildings.

"It's graphic," Bice added. There's children that were shot." 

Deputies, many of whom are parents, themselves, have to work past their emotions.

They use a replica of their service weapons that is outfitted with a laser and make split second decisions to fire at suspects armed with weapons.

"You don't want the first time to be when it's real," Bice says about the value of the simulator. "We're just trying to go to the next level and be as good as we can for our community."


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