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Luna closer to Law Enforcement Training Center

By Dave Kavanaugh
Luna Community College

Improving crucial skills and expertise for law enforcement personnel is one major objective of a planned training center coming to the Luna Community College campus in 2021.
The center took another step closer toward becoming reality on Friday, Jan. 8, as Luna administrators signed contracts with VirTra, Inc., manufacturers of two state-of-the-art simulators that will be key components of the center. Luna will lease a firearms training simulator and purchase a driving simulator from the Arizona-based company. The college’s Board of Trustees approved those investments in its Dec. 8 meeting.
The college expects to introduce both simulators – which will be housed within a wing of Luna’s Law Enforcement Training Center –early during the Spring Semester. Initial training opportunities will be available during the Summer Term, with full implementation by the Fall 2021 semester, said interim President Dr. Kenneth Patterson, although some will be introduced sooner – possibly in time for the second eight weeks of the coming spring semester.
Luna’s Law Enforcement Training Center will provide training to agencies and individuals throughout the southwest United States, leading to a better-trained workforce for various police and other first responders, Patterson said. The firearms simulator, for example, places participants in a 300-degree environment with multiple training scenarios. Participants can learn and use de-escalation techniques as well as particular practice situations to develop their decision-making and proficiency, he noted.
“They can learn when to shoot, when not to shoot,” Patterson said. “The idea is to develop better trained law enforcement officers so these situations are handled as well as they can be.” This equipment also allows for a post-activity reconstruction of actual law enforcement incidents, such as those taking place in the U.S. Capitol. The integration of extensive video footage will allow law enforcement training within a realistic simulation of the actual event, as it actually happened.”
Such a center will dramatically improve accessibility to exceptional training for agencies and individuals across the region, Patterson said. He said Luna will be the only site in the nation offering these two simulators and training scenarios.

Luna Community College Chief Financial Officer Donna Flores Medina, left, and interim President Dr. Kenneth Patterson sign contracts that will bring two state-of-the-art simulators to campus in 2021. One simulator is for firearms training, designed for law enforcement and featuring a 300-degree simulation experience. The other is for law enforcement and community driving instruction. Luna is contracting with the Arizona-based company VirTra, Inc., to implement both simulators as part of the college's Associate of Arts degree program in Criminal Justice and for a workforce training center that will be available to law enforcement personnel across the region. Patterson said the college hopes to introduce the simulators for regular use by the Fall 2021 semester.

The simulators additionally can be used as a component of Luna’s growing Associate of Arts degree program in Criminal Justice and program coursework in the behavioral sciences. Patterson said the driving simulator may also provide opportunities for area partnerships in driver training.
Potential for federal funding exists, as the training center grows and develops.