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FATS gave me new appreciation

When the door shut behind me, I knew I was about to go through an experience.

Earlier this week, Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks invited the local newspapers to go through FATS, or Firearms Training System.

FATS is a tool used to develop, design and sharpen a police officer’s discretionary skills as well as reinforce conflict resolution abilities.

With FATS, police officers experience different scenarios, including traffic stops, school conflicts and others involving responding to various scenes.

When I entered the room, three Alabama Department of Corrections K-9 officers, along with APD Training Instructor Sgt. Chris Corbitt.

Corbitt asked me if I wanted to go through some scenarios, and I responded with a hearty, “sure!”

Corbitt asked if I was familiar with firearms, and I told him sort of. To be honest, I’ve never fired a gun before.

He gave me some simple instructions on how to arm the gun, which was linked to a computer inside the room.

I then holstered my gun.

In front of me was a big white projection screen. Some distance behind me and to my right, a projector linked to a computer played each of the three scenarios that Corbitt selected.

The first scenario included a student inside of a school with a knife; and the last two involved different traffic stops.

Each played out before me was different. That’s the idea.

Brooks told me after the training simulation that each traffic stop or other scenario is different.

“When an officer pulls a car over, there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop,” Brooks said.

He’s right.

Throughout each scenario, I learned something new on what a police officer experiences.

These officers put their lives at risk every time they hit their lights and pull somebody over because they don’t know the situation until they come up on the driver of the vehicle.

In one of the scenarios, the police officer is backing up another officer on a traffic stop.

After briefly speaking with the driver, which is wanted on a warrant, an 11-year-old girl steps out of the truck with a gun.

The officer’s job is to defuse the situation the best way he or she knows how. The end result, or aim, is to make sure everybody leaves the scene alive.

I learned a lot from the experience, and I gained an even greater appreciation of what these officers go through on a daily basis.