The LAPD Devonshire Division now has a spacious, permanent home for its high-tech tactical training facility.
After several years of planning and fund raising, the police station in Northridge held a ribbon cutting Thursday for a modular building that houses the Devonshire Training Unit and a Force Option Simulator, or FOS. About 50 people attended the ceremony outside the building, which takes up 15 parking spaces behind the 40-year-old station at 10250 Etiwanda Ave., just east of Reseda Boulevard.
The simulator allows officers to experience real-life tactical scenarios in which the scene changes to match the officers’ actions. Up to two officers, using Glock handguns adapted for the training, watch a short video of a crime in progress. The action changes when the officers make verbal commands or shoot. A debriefing then shows on the screen where each shot landed or indicates that the officer would have been shot or failed to act. A training officer critiques each session. An officer overlooking the simulator room sits at a computer console controlling the video to match the officers’ moves.
The videos are based on real situations and include sound effects in addition to any dialogue. The guns are attached to an air tank; firing makes a realistic sound as well as feeling a reverberation. Scenarios shown Thursday included a shooting at a school, a store robbery, bank robbery, domestic violence, a traffic stop, a bar fight, a burglary and a hostage situation. During the session with the school shooting, participants experienced walking through hallways, going around corners and through a kitchen and seeing injured students on the floors while looking for a suspect that can be heard but not seen.
The training helps keep officers’ skills fresh as well as ensuring that they are educated and trained on the latest tactical innovations and techniques.
Supporters of Law Enforcement in Devonshire (SOLID), the station’s citizen support group, raised about $30,000 to obtain, transport, set up and furnish the structure. Previously, the training equipment was in a nearby small trailer where it had to be removed and stored when the space was used for other purposes. The new facility provides permanent placement of the equipment as well as office space for training officers.
The simulator can be used by officers throughout the Valley Bureau. LAPD has simulators in each geographical area of the city.
Former Assemblywoman Paula Boland led the ceremony with assistance from the two captains at the station, Kris Pitcher and Maureen Ryan.
A plaque was unveiled that honors benefactors for the project, which are the SOLID board; North Valley YMCA, Jane Stanton, executive director; the Annenberg Foundation; Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council; Chatsworth Neighborhood Council; and Steve and Cathy Needleman.
Several of the 265 officers at the station spent personal time working on the facility. Retired Devonshire Capt. Sean Kane helped ensure that the project would be completed. Former City Councilman Greig Smith, who attended the ribbon cutting, was instrumental in getting the equipment for Devonshire Division. A group of police officers from Simi Valley provided windows for the building.
SOLID, which pays for items that the city does not provide for the officers and station, has pledged to handle all future maintenance expenses, including electrical, furnishings, air conditioning and heating, flooring and equipment replacement.
The next SOLID fund raiser is the annual pancake breakfast on May 19 from 7:30 to 10 am. For $7 you get all you can eat pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee. Officers from Devonshire Division will be cooking. It will be held in the park across the street from the station.