Aiming To Save Cops' Lives

There is an innovative new police training program designed to help keep people alive, and it may soon make shooting at cardboard cutouts a thing of the past.

It's a high-tech shooting range. While it may look like a video game, these bad guys shoot back using videotaped crime scenes. The simulation drops officers into the middle of dangerous situations.

An instructor uses a computer to change each situation based on how the officer reacts-sometimes defusing the tensions and other times escalating them.

And for an extra dose of reality, the barrel at the bottom of the video screen, fires plastic bullets at officers that sting on impact.

"With that fear of pain reproduced here, they're going to train at a different level," according to a police trainer in Fairfax, Va., which has one of the few police departments that have adopted the program. "They're not going to train where they're just casual about it."

The system, called Prism, not only teaches police when to use force, it also teaches them when not to.

After each confrontation, there is a quick analysis to tell the officer what he did right and a video replay so he can see what he did wrong.

The computer simulation program is only one year old. In the east, there are just three police departments using them, but others are likely to be on board soon.