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Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn

Lt. Jody Mays wants his deputies to have more than 15 minutes of training in a shooting simulator each year.

But right now, that's all the officers at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office can squeeze in — the sheriff's office rents a law enforcement shooting simulator for $6,000 for two weeks each year and rushes officers through.

Last year, the sheriff's office couldn't find the money to do even that, and no one trained in the system.

Now, the AEGIS Law Enforcement Foundation of Greater Chattanooga is taking aim at $70,000 — that's how much the foundation will need to purchase a shooting simulator system for the sheriff's office.

The system puts officers into realistic scenarios where they must choose whether or not to shoot a suspect. The life-sized video and audio system is interactive — the person controlling the simulation can make the characters act in different ways based on the officer's behavior.

A character could pull a driver's license from behind a box or a gun. After each scenario, trainees can see where their shots ended up and evaluate their performance and decision making.

"On the firing range, you can't train for a non-shoot scenario," said Mays, a full-time training officer. "But here, you can use the Taser, or the OC spray or the baton. You can train officers on the full use-of-force gamut."

The AEGIS foundation is hosting a fundraising luncheon today. The nonprofit foundation was created in 2012 in order to provide support, specialized training and technology to Chattanooga's law enforcement, said Tom Edd Wilson, executive director.

"We try to create an environment where we do things for them that they wouldn't be able to do within their own budget," he said.

The director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Mark Gwyn, will be the keynote speaker at today's luncheon.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.

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