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Talent police Chief Mike Moran practices his reactions to various crime-in-progress scenarios during a computer-simulated training exhibit Wednesday at The Grove in Ashland. - Julia Moore

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Talent police Chief Mike Moran raises his gun at a burglary suspect and barks a series of commands, which are ignored.

"Police!" Moran yells. "Get your hands where I can see them!"

Suddenly, the suspect pulls a knife and rushes toward Moran, forcing the chief to shoot him several times to stop the threat.

The scene then freezes on the wall-sized screen. Moran puts down his plastic gun and turns toward the man running the exercise.

"I think I handled that well," Moran says.

Who says video games can't be a benefit to society?

The Talent Police Department is hosting a computer-simulated training exhibit provided by the state academy at The Grove in Ashland.

The training involves officers working their way through realistic scenarios. Think of it as a video game for cops, except that is serves a greater purpose than killing time, says Dave Lorenz, Talent police range master and firearms instructor.

Lorenz mans the laptop and picks the scenarios an officer will face. He clicks on a menu with titles such as "Burglary in Progress" and "Hostage on City Bus" and places the officer in the action.

The officer is given a fake gun, pepper spray and Taser and asked to choose the correct level of force in a situation.

Moran chooses the burglary scenario, in which he is given the point of view of an officer entering a home that had been invaded by two suspects.

The screen shows the action from a first-person point of view. When Moran enters the home's living room, one suspect darts down a hallway while her accomplice stands his ground.

The screen suspect keeps his hands in his pockets as Moran orders him to raise them.

There are numerous outcomes to this scene, Lorenz says.

"The scenarios often aren't cut-and-dry," he says. "In some there isn't really a way to 'win,' so to speak. All we are looking for is for an officer to articulate his or her use of force. We want them to explain their decision making."

Moran runs through the burglary scenario twice. One ends with the suspect surrendering, while the other forces Moran to shoot after the man suddenly pulls a knife from his pocket.

One of the possible no-win scenarios features a man breaking away from a rowdy crowd. The officer follows him to ask him to move behind a barricade. Suddenly the man opens his shirt and shows he is strapped with a bomb.

This forces the officer into a tough situation. Either shoot the man quickly and risk an explosion, or attempt to clear out the area of bystanders.

"Sometimes on this one you just don't have time to react," Lorenz says. "He just opens his coat and pushes the button. But we want to see how you handle yourself until that happens. Maybe you could have stopped him even before it got to this point."

Talent police plan to host the training for the next few weeks, Moran says.

"We are going to give some other agencies a chance to take advantage of it while it's down here," Moran says. "It's good training and pretty fun."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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