New York - NYPD Recruits Learning To Drive Big Apple Style
New York - NYPD recruits are getting a crash course on speeding down streets with lights and sirens—in which they can crash without hurting anyone.
The intense road training takes place on two $95,000 simulators housed in a trailer at the department’s driver education facility at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field.
Driving through more than 80 different scenarios, including high-speed pursuits in dense traffic—far too dangerous to practice on real streets—rookies are given the opportunity to crash and learn, Lt. Luis Perez, who runs the program, told the Post.
When a Post reporter floored the gas pedal and was instructed to speed—with sirens wailing—to the scene of a pinned-down officer calling for assistance, Officer Paul Cacioppo and Detective Dan Donza, performing the roles of central dispatch and the officer in danger, raised the stakes.
“Come on, come on, let’s get there!” Cacioppo shouted, at which point the cruiser was nearly hit by a black Camaro coming out from behind a bus.
“10-13, 10-13! [the code for a cop in danger] Where’s my help? Central, are you sending anyone?” Donza yelled.
“It’s my job to make you crash in this learning environment—I am trying to stress you out,” Cacioppo said afterward.
“With a friend of yours screaming for help, you’re always going to feel you’re not getting there fast enough. Your job is to get there.
“No matter what thoughts are going through your mind, if you don’t get there, you can’t be of any help.”
With approximately 5,000 police vehicles on the road 24 hours a day, accidents cannot be completely avoided.
There were 2,385 crashes this year, down 6.7 percent from a year ago, but it’s too soon to tell if the simulators are having an impact, Perez said.
Every corner of the city is a lawless place when a police cruiser attempts to go through an intersection against the light.
“We can customize our scenarios to put more pedestrians and cyclists there, as well as changing the weather to rain or snow or the time from day to night,” Perez said.
“We can teach them how to make the proper judgments in situations we cannot replicate safely out on the street.
“Let me be clear: This is not a video game,” he added, pointing to the dashboard, steering wheel, gas and brake pedals—designed to replicate the experience of patrolling in a Ford Crown Victoria—and the three panoramic street screens.
“Nothing can take the place of hands-on driving, but when you make a mistake here, we can pause it, freeze-frame it, and watch the replay”
The simulators do not replace the rigorous road test all recruits have to pass.
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