Mendota Police Department
The Mendota Police Department demonstrated its new DART training system at a recent city council meeting. During their fifteen-minute presentation, they discussed the importance of training, barriers to training, and how DART addresses their needs. Their experience and observations are worth noting for any department trying to maintain training effectiveness within tight budgetary limits.
On the Challenges of Providing Adequate Training
“Ammo is eight to twelve months out in backorder. In addition, the cost of ammunition [has] doubled or tripled.”
“Peoria [has a] fantastic system, but… it takes us more time to drive officers down there… than they’re actually getting in training.”
“Our live-fire range freezes every winter… so from November until March, depending on weather,… we have no access to live firearms training.”
On the Limitations of Other Simulation Trainers
“Most of the systems that are available for a department our size are really expensive – prohibitively so. In addition to the initial buy-in cost, you’ve also got recurring fees and maintenance fees.”
“Most are proprietary so you have to use their training scenarios [and] their videos. That’s not going to work for us because we want the ability to make our own firearms training scenarios.”
On Evaluating DART
“We looked at everything that was available and the DART training simulator looked the most promising.”
“We [found] a department that had [DART] in Wisconsin. They’ve had the system for about two years [and] really like it. They’re getting great results, their firearm scores have increased, [and] they’re meeting all their Wisconsin training mandates. They’ve had no maintenance or repair issues at all, and they’re able to make training scenarios easily, which was a big thing for us because we don’t want to have somebody that’s got to have six months of training to be able to make a scenario”.
“Another big thing that we weren’t aware of before we went up there, is that the training scenarios can be shared between departments. This is huge because no one else allows you to do this. Everything is locked in because they want you to buy this stuff from them.”
“We spent three hours up there. We shot the unit and they showed us how to write the scenarios – basically gave us access to their entire system and we were so impressed that we recommended to the chief that we purchase the system”.
On Rifle Training
“An insert for the AR-15 allows us to use it for the training with rifles, which is huge because we’ve never been able to have enough money to get the training hours on the ARs to where we want them, so this is huge for us.”
On Working with Recruits and New Shooters
“We’ve got a couple of new officers that we’ve run through [DART] for qualifications and we’re watching them improve. They don’t have any firearms experience [and] we’re watching them improve as we’re running through the drills. It is amazing to watch the skill building; transition from targets, weapons handling… Watching the level of proficiency increase is just amazing.”
“As you can see, it’s portable. We have it set up here on the cart [so] we can move it anywhere in the building. If we want to use it for outside the department, we can move it to a different building. If we’re doing a drill at the high school or one of the other schools, we can set it up inside a room or in a stairwell or anything, and have the officers running into a scenario there – so it’s a very versatile unit.”