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Pueblo Police train for stress before hitting the streets

What is it like to make life or death decisions in the blink of an eye?

To give the public a better understanding of what officers experience in the line of duty, the Pueblo police Department invited KRDO and the Pueblo County District Attorney’s office to participate in some of the same training their officers go through.

The drills — which simulate realistic high levels of stress and adrenaline — require participants to judge when or if they should use their firearm.

Officers have mere seconds to make life altering decisions and no one scenario is the same.

“That’s what it is with human beings. They are all different,” said Captain Charlie Taylor with the Pueblo Police Department. “Everyone reacts differently and it is completely unpredictable.”

Participants are equipped with body armor, masks, and paintball guns instead of real firearms during the drills. Fellow officers were the actors in simulated scenarios including armed suicides, drunken citizens, traffic stops, and threats from an individual armed with a knife.

“There is no way in a classroom to get across how fast things occur in the field,” said Sgt. Zachary Ballas with the Pueblo Police Department. “If they aren’t used to reacting under stress and making decisions under stress, we aren’t going to be successful when this happens in the streets or on patrol.”

Even though the threats are staged by their colleagues and the weapons hurt less than a pinch, the adrenaline is real.

“The adrenaline changes your perception of all the events you are experiencing,” said Eric Bellas, one of Wednesday’s participants. “It makes time different. It makes your field of vision different.”

“These drills give officers an opportunity to have those experiences in an environment where they are still going to be able to go home at night,” said Cpt. Taylor.

If you’re interested in participating in similar mock scenarios, the Pueblo Police Department offers a citizens academy to members of the public. You can find out more on the Pueblo Police Department Facebook page. However, the dates for the next citizen’s academy are still unclear at this time.

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