MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink)- Officers, along with participants in Muncie’s Citizen Police Academy, recently met at the Midwest Threat Assessment Center (MTAC) in Muncie for night four of the six-week academy. The lesson: How to handle situations where the use of a firearm is necessary. 

Officers set up a traffic stop scenario, and then had participants conduct the stop playing the role as officer, with Officer Chase Winkle being the driver of the car. Both the officer and criminal in the situation were armed with CO2-powered pistols with plastic pellets used for ammunition. Each scenario was different; many ending with the guns being fired. 

“I thought the group did very well,” said Winkle following the completion of the evening. 

“I think what’s interesting is you bring in the plastic pellets, which don’t hurt very much, you get a little sting. They [participants] aren’t treating any of these traffic stops normal. They’re getting people out of cars and patting them down for weapons and pulling their guns out and doing things that we as officers would not do on the streets because if we did, it would be a complaint,” Winkle said.

Winkle added that while in training it is easy to be on high alert, in real life it’s not always possible.

“We try and do a mix with this training of just a normal car stop, and they go up there and get a guy out and escalate the situation. It’s easy for them to go in on high alert, but we aren’t like that on every traffic stop. It’s just not realistic," Winkle said.

Frank Scott, president of the Whitely Community Council, is a participant in the academy. He was grateful for the experience at MTAC, saying it offered a different way of looking at things.

“At any moment, it can turn bad. You might think, ‘All you have to do is go up to a car and have a nice scenario,’ but you never know when that split second might happen,” Scott said. “You sitting in that situation and trying to make that call is a lot different than saying ‘If I was there I would have done it this way.’ When you’re in there, you don’t know what you’re going to do.”

All the participants had the opportunity to complete the live-action scenario, as well as a electronic simulator which provided different scenarios including traffic stops, break-ins and bank robberies.

The Muncie Citizen Police Academy concludes February 27, when participants will ride along with officers for a part of their shift.

Contact Emerson Lehmann with comments on Twitter @lehmann_emerson or Facebook @EmersonLehmannNews.