Demings takes shooting scenario simulator for a spin at I/ITSEC

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings likely has as much experience dealing with an active shooter situation as any mayor in the country, having been a former police chief and county sheriff.

So, his turn in a simulator last week at the world’s largest simulation conference came from a unique perspective.

As he exited the scenario, which he navigated alongside one of his security detail, Demings said his own training decades ago was certainly far less sophisticated. 

“I wish this would have been available when I first started,” said Demings, 64, who was a detective 17 years with Orlando Police Department before a four-year stint as its police chief started in 1998. “But this was good for me. It’s good training for me.”

World’s largest defense show

The scenario put Demings into a virtual arena built by VirTra, an Arizona company that opened an Orlando office last year.

It was on the show floor of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, known as I/ITSEC.

It’s the largest modeling, simulation and training show in the world for the defense industry.

Every year, it attracts some of the bigger defense contractors to showcase their latest technology. For VirTra, that meant showcasing its real-time shooter scenario.

Demings’ experience

As he walked the floor, visiting booths hosted by companies with Orlando businesses, Demings stopped by VirTra.

He wanted to put in a little bit of training.

As a county sheriff for 10 years, Demings would be involved with training options for officers.

“I’ve been involved in some shootings, commanded shooting scenes, but from a training perspective we tried to make the training as realistic as possible,” Demings said. “This type of training really enhances their ability to perform in a real-life situation. You will react in real life, pretty much how you’ve trained.”

In the simulator, Demings stood ready, facing a large, 300-degree screen.

The scenario duplicated what appeared to be a library, with the camera slowly making itself down a hallway.

Other characters were seen fleeing the scene as Demings and his detail moved toward the simulated active shooter.

Demings said the level of sophistication in training continues to improve, which is important.

A new generation

“And, so, this is the way of the world now,” said Demings, who continues to use the most advanced training methods to keep his law enforcement certification current. “The young officers entering the profession today, they have grown up in a world full of technology and innovation and their eye hand coordination is pretty phenomenal.”

Because of the sensitive nature of certain industries, including military intelligence, security and law enforcement, it’s sometimes unclear how important they are to Central Florida.

But Demings said it has become an instrumental goal to build this high-tech industry within the region.

“It’s not widely advertised that we have these types of facilities and assets here within our community,” he said. “So, as we have looked to further diversify our economy with highways and jobs, modeling, simulation and training is pivotal to that ultimate goal, as well.”