WPA Task Force Commander Jerry Cooper On FATS Training
Jerry Cooper is a law enforcement trainer who has been a continuously sworn law enforcement officer for more than 36 years. The majority of that time was spent with North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE). He currently serves as a reserve officer with the Cleveland, N.C. Police Department. Jerry’s training specialties include Subject Control & Arrest Techniques, FATS (firearms training simulator), and Anti-Terrorism. He earned a B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Education.
Jerry Cooper is the commander of the Writers’ Police Academy Violent Crimes Task Force, and your FATS instructor.
FATS is a virtual training system that prepares law enforcement officers to properly apply use-of-force options. Scenarios are keyed into a FATS primary simulation computer and are played out on an eight-foot screen.
Using voice commands and various lethal and less-lethal weapons, participants will negotiate stressful scenarios. Upon completion, the learner will have a more thorough understanding of issues faced by law enforcement officers who often must make split-second decisions regarding the application of force.
Lee Lofland has done a wonderful job of preparing you for your Task Force assignment. This training has been difficult to schedule. Lee’s special orders to you reflect expert planning. His commitment to making this project work will surely result in an exciting time for all of us. Please follow Lee’s instructions carefully. I would like to reiterate a couple of things Lee has communicated to you, and expand on some others.
Please remember to present the required waiver to the perimeter officer at the entrance to the FATS room. The FATS room is located in room # 130 in the Public Safety Building.
It is crucial that you report on time. Help us keep things moving so everyone has an opportunity to benefit from this training. Listen to all instructions carefully, whether they originate with me, the perimeter officer, the safety officer, or the scenario narrator. We have to crunch about eight hours of instruction down to 30 minutes or less. We can make this work.
Although time is short, we want you to profit from this experience. Relax, and listen to the safety officer. The tools you will be using are real weapons, but they have been retooled with a LASER, and are no longer capable of firing live ammunition. I will not turn on the shoot-back system (I don’t like to see grown people cry). Do not worry about belts or pockets; wear something comfortable.
You and your teammate will be given a couple of scenarios. One will probably call for the use of lethal force. Another can probably be resolved with less lethal force. If time permits, you might even get another surprise scenario.
When your time is up, and it is time for the next team to run through their scenarios, please do not linger in the FATS room. I will try to answer as many of your questions as I can. If I cannot answer them all, I will give you one of my business cards and you can feel free to contact me later. If you are ever back in this area, we might even be able to steal a few more minutes on the FATS simulator.
When your team is “on deck,” watch and listen carefully. You can learn a lot in this type of training by simply letting your brain absorb what is happening and form those neural pathways.
Take the scenarios serious. Do not approach this experience as you would a video game. Let your heart rate go up, and you will reap the rewards of training under stress.
Demonstrate a command presence. Use concise, simple voice commands – what the F.B.I. refers to as alpha commands (e.g., “drop the knife”; “stop”; etc.). (Sorry, writers, but do not use the beta commands like on TV and in the movies – “Get your M_F_ing _ ass on the ground!”)
Unless you have a big “S” tattooed on your chest, use the cover we provide for you. Cover stops bullets. Officers who take cover during shootings survive 95% of the time, even when they do not return fire.
Relax. No one really gets killed in the FATS room.
Learn. You do not have to negotiate the scenarios perfectly. The U.S. Supreme Court only requires we act “reasonably” (Graham v. Conner, 1989).
Jerry Cooper, Task Force Commander
ALE officer Jerry Cooper at his first liquor still capture in Wilkes County NC (the “Bootleg Capital of the World”) in January 1975. This type of still was known as a “Wilkesboro burner.”
Only 11 days left until the Writers’ Police Academy and we still have room for you!
The deadline to enter the 200 word short story contest was September 10. The Golden Donut Award sure would look nice sitting on your desk! I hope we have your entry!
All FATS information and schedules have been sent to the recruits via email. Partners have been assigned, so please check your inboxes and confirm upon receipt of the message. If you have not received your scheduled shoot time please let me know at email@example.com. A few of the emails bounced back to us as undeliverable. Therefore, we need a working email address for you.
The names of the eight finalists for the Don Knotts Silver Bullet Novel Contest are in! Good luck to each of you!
Lara Louise Crawford
Jodi S. Kilpack
Bonnie K. Stevens