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Putting you in the cop’s shoes – a look inside IMPD’s Hershyville

A sign for IMPD's Hershyville, a training facility on North Post Road that offers civilians the chance to take part in a police training exercise. (Photo by Donnie Burgess/WIBC)

INDIANAPOLIS (WIBC) — You may watch a police shooting video or hear about an officer’s actions and think ‘this is what I would’ve done.” Police in Indianapolis offer the community a chance to put that thinking to the test.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has introduced a community-based training day in which regular people, city councilors, news reporters, and others come out to the IMPD training facility on North Post Road and participate in police training. The second community-based training event was held Thursday, and police hope to expand the program for the sake of understanding and transparency.

“We’ve identified there’s opportunities for us to educate members of our community,” says IMPD Public Information Officer Lt. Shane Foley, “(and) give them the opportunity to go through the training that our officers go through and to experience it in similar ways to what our officers go through.”

IMPD placed groups of two in four different scenarios in the Hershyville training ground. You’re both armed with guns, and you have to make life-changing decisions, such as saving a hostage from a sword-wielding suspect or stopping a man from beating his wife.

It’s not only valuable training for your body, but your mind as well, says IMPD. The department also places a heavy emphasis on learning the law and understanding how police use certain tactics to de-escalate situations.

Transparency and accountability have been two top priorities for new Chief of Police Chris Bailey. He’s also interested in examining recent police shootings and determining how IMPD can avoid situations like those in the future.

The IMPD Hershyville facility is as close as you can get to being in one of those police shooting situations.

The goal is not to convince you that the cops are always right or make you completely “pro-police,” but it’s to show that sometimes police have to make split-second decisions in situations that are unpredictable.

“What we found is people come through this and they’re like wow, this opened our eyes. Maybe I was critical of the officers or critical of specific decisions that officers would make,” says Lt. Foley.

It’s difficult to hold consistent community-based training events due to the strain on police resources, but IMPD hopes to continue and expand the program. When it comes to other police departments across the state, Lt. Foley says it isn’t appropriate for him to give those officers advice, but he does believe that for IMPD, this is a step towards showing the department is committed to transparency.