Public Safety & Criminal Justice Academy puts you behind a simulated badge

Retired Puyallup Police Department Officer Gary Shilley knows a thing or two about how quickly things can go from bad to worse.

In 2006, while conducting a traffic stop he was shot in the face by a man who was later sentenced to 44 years in jail for the crime.

Thankfully, Shilley survived the ordeal and he was awarded the Washington State Medal of Honor in 2006. But even though he has retired from his 25-year career in law enforcement, he is still committed to ensuring that the public understands the challenges facing the police officers in their communities.

Shilley will be one of the presenters during U.P's upcoming Public Safety and Criminal Justice Academy which runs on Thursdays from March 22 to May 3. He will bring special equipment with him that enables academy participants to engage in various virtual reality scenarios that police officers often face. Using a special projection screen and disarmed Glock handguns similar to those used by law enforcement, academy students will be invited to re-enact what a police officer responding to events such as a domestic violence call or a traffic stop might encounter.

“The screen is interactive so the people on it talk to the student and the student can respond to them,” Shilley said. “It doesn’t take long to see how things can escalate pretty quickly and how quickly an officer has to made a decision.”

In fact, the exercise is so real-life that some people choose not to participate. The handguns are equipped with lasers that are meant to simulate the firing of a gun with bullets. “It raises the heart rate and can be pretty intimidating for some people,” he said.

At the invitation of U.P. Police Chief Mike Blair, Shilley has made this presentation at several of U.P.’s previous citizens’ academies. “I am really impressed by the level of participation the City of U.P., for being as small as it is, gets in these academies,” he said. Sharing the challenges of policing in the modern world is important, he adds. “These scenarios can change a lot of people’s minds and ideas in a split second about what they thought they knew about police work.”

If you are interested in attending the upcoming Public Safety and Criminal Justice Course, call 253.798.3141 to register.

Course Outline:

March 22 - Introduction to policing in University Place & Course overview — Chief Blair
March 29 - Protecting your property & yourself — Jennifer Hales
April 5 - Nine flashpoints in American policing — Sheriff Paul Pastor
April 12 - Patrol procedures & use of force — Sergeant Glen Carpenter
April 19 - Legalized marijuana and its impact on public safety — Deputy Nordstrom
April 26 - K9 — Deputy John Munson & Hans
May 3rd - Personal gun ownership & firearms simulations — Deputy Hacker & Deputy Hales & retired Puyallup Officer Gary Shilley