A Taste of Danger

By Harris, Chris | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), April 22, 2015 | Go to article overview

A Taste of Danger


Harris, Chris, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


ELMWOOD PARK -- An erratic woman enters a building and begins yelling nonsensically at anyone in her sight. When she pulls a large knife from her waistband, an effective blast of pepper spray defuses the situation, and the woman is cuffed by police.

This scene played out Monday afternoon, inside Elmwood Park's Municipal Building, under very safe circumstances -- a laptop computer projected the action onto a wall using interactive software designed to help prepare police for the unforeseeable.

Using $30,000 in recently seized drug money and a $30,000 federal grant, Elmwood Park Police Chief Michael Foligno purchased a use-of- force training simulator for the department last month.

"This is the closest that we can come to reality in a training situation," said Foligno, adding that the state requires only that police officers attend range training twice a year, which he feels is insufficient.

"I want us to be ahead of the curve in every situation," he said, "and I think this is going to help."

Developed by Ti Training Corp., based in Colorado, the simulator is the department's second big purchase this month. Weeks ago, the chief used seizure money to buy body cameras for all his officers.

"I'm truly excited about this, and everyone seems to love it," Foligno said. "We are really fortunate to have this simulator. It has been a long time coming and was basically tailor-made for this department."

Capt. Frank Thorpe, a firearms instructor for the force, said Elmwood Park police administrators had been mulling the $60,000 purchase for several years, but never budgeted the money for it.

In a demonstration Monday for The Record, Officers Michael Prelich and Eliseo Medrano tackled several simulated situations, including a simple traffic stop and an active school shooting.

The officers arm themselves with flashlights that can be used to illuminate their surroundings in different simulations and interactive plastic Glocks and mock pepper spray cans.

All three pieces of equipment emit laser beams, and the guns are equipped with carbon dioxide cartridges, giving the fake firearm a realistic kick.

"My heart is racing, because this really gets you going," Prelich said after taking out a rampaging shooter on the life-sized screen in a scenario that unfolded inside a busy train station. Following a workplace violence simulation with bloodied bodies strewn across desks and the near-deafening wails of the wounded, Prelich's voice cracked as adrenaline raced through his veins. …

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