JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before they begin patrolling the streets of city, police officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office undergo extensive training, helping them make split-second decisions.
News4Jax was able to take part in the training at FSCJ North, which highlights the dangerous scenarios police face almost every day. Officers learn about traffic stops, high-pressure confrontations and situations that might require the use of deadly force.
To become an officer, they must undergo more than 1,000 hours of different types of training, including what's known as the curtain drill. When a curtain is quite literally raised, trainees are immediately forced to make a hard decision.
To shout commands to deescalate the situation, to use a Taser or to use deadly force.
In a scenario News4Jax reporter Tarik Minor was faced with, one man brandished a weapon, which, police say, is a sign of clear and immediate danger. After the threat was neutralized, he had to decide how best to break up a fight. He used a Taser.
It was just one of several training scenarios officers must complete before becoming an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
"Someone that is patient, and someone that is able to react to a variety of situations in a split-second," J.W. Short, with the Sheriff's Office, explained.
Another scenario takes trainees outside, simulating one of the most common ways police interact with the public -- a traffic stop. But in this situation, a passenger armed with a firearm exited the car.
Tarik: "Sir, step back in the car. Step back in the car."
Suspect: "Why? What are you going to --"
Based on advice from a training officer, because of the aggressive manner of the man's approach with a weapon, Tarik decided lethal force was necessary, and he opened fire.
"We're always aware of what the driver is doing and what the passenger doing, and when someone exits the vehicle in that aggressive manner, with a gun in their hand, you were able to stop the threat, and that's what you did," Sgt. Rammage, with the Sheriff's Office, said.
The third scenario was virtual reality, where officers were called to the home of a person who is known to be hostile toward police. After deescalation attempts failed, the enraged suspect dropped a hammer and picked up a shotgun.
Once again, Tarik decided lethal force was necessary.
These confrontations are a reality for police officers across the country, and to bridge the gap between the police and the community, officers encourage community members to interact with Sheriff's Office personnel, when they see them in their everyday life.
"Anytime the citizens can have the opportunity to engage an officer when it's not a critical incident, you do. Engage that officer," Short said. "If you see one at a restaurant or at the grocery store, get to know them as a person, and I think that really humanizes the badge."