Cara Davis asked whether a stumbling man was OK one moment, then had her weapon drawn in the next.
Armed with handcuffs and a mock firearm, all Davis knew was that a man refused to leave a store. An unruly Josh Israel ignored Davis' orders as he continued shuffling between rifling through a trashcan and a bag. Seconds later, after repeated orders for Israel to put his hands up, Davis saw him reach for a pistol in the bag and pulled her trigger.
Davis, a Southern Oregon University sophomore, was one of about 50 students getting their first steps in the shoes of a patrol officer Tuesday and Wednesday on the Ashland campus. The exercises are based on actual officer-involved shootings, according to SOU adjunct professor Tiffany Morey, who teaches the Intro to Law Enforcement class.
It's a temperament that usually gets refined toward the end of police academy training, according to Morey.
"Not all of these guys want to be cops," Morey said.
Among the students who say they hope to become a patrol officer was SOU freshman Alyssa Moutsatson. In her exercise, Moutsatson sought to control Israel and Grace Funrue following a report that one of the two was armed. Moutsatson asked to see their hands, an order Israel complied with, but Funrue resisted.
"No, this is America," Funrue said. "I can do what I want."
Though Moutsatson's exchange ended with shots fired, Morey commended Moutsatson for using commands to control the situation.
"That's a huge thing, when they're not complying," Morey said.
Leading up to the training, students in Morey's class learned about typical scenarios an officer will face, and observed videos with pointers on how to respond. Applying that knowledge practically can be a challenge.
"There's nothing you can really do to prepare for this type of situation," Moutsatson said. "You go in not knowing what to expect, so it's pretty dang stressful, to be honest."
Morey said she picked the scenarios because they involved shootings, some justified and others unjustified, and they were all recorded on video. Many students only familiarized themselves with the "tunnel vision" real police officers can face under stress.
Among the trainers was criminology and psychology major Timothy Short. Though he's never been a police officer, he faced uncertain situations while serving eight years as a Marine.
"Some of the situations that you're put in and don't have a choice, it's nice for people to gain that perception," Short said.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.