SALEM – Lights flashing, dust flying, police with guns drawn. The scenario today on a gravel road next to the Salem Civic Center looked real enough – until bystanders noticed the guns were red.
What looked like cops and robbers was role playing to teach Salem Police officers the right way to drive while pursuing a fleeing car and how to approach a driver who might be armed and dangerous.
Three marked police cars gave chase on the gravel driveway along the grassy area of the civic center complex, boxing in an unmarked police car before ordering the driver to get out and put his hands over his head.
The driver responded, “Leave me alone. I just want to be left alone.”
After officers got the suspect safely out of the car, Salem Police Lt. Chuck King, who was conducting the training all week, gave tips on how the officers could do it better next time or when and if a real instance occurs.
Then they all did it again.
“He did a great job with the training,” said Salem Police Capt. Tim Guthrie.
Almost all of the Salem Police Department’s 60 officers went through the training exercises this week, which looked real enough for passersby to stop and stare.
The real look was what the police were after.
“Real is what we wanted,” said Guthrie, adding that the police used older cars for the exercise.