Houston Chronicle reporter Cindy Horswell visited the Harris County sheriff’s firearms training complex to learn how deputies make split-second decisions on the use of deadly force. Horswell says she heard only one of the two shots fired at me during the training exercise in which she and a television reporter searched a mock trailer for a possible intruder, “but I couldn’t miss the sting in my leg muscle when the bullet hit.”
During three staged confrontations with a criminal, Horswell had under a second to decide whether to shoot. “There was no room for mistakes or debate, only reaction,” she says. Horswell admits standing “passively as my partner was fatally stabbed by a vagrant who had been rousted from a park bench. In my other two confrontations, I failed to fire in one instance and my shots only hit a concrete wall in the other. The criminals were more accurate, and I would have been killed.” The sheriff’s “Fire Arms Simulator” includes a life-sized video screen tethered by a long cord to a gun and run by computers. The gun has the recoil and sounds of a real weapon, but it shoots an infrared laser, invisible to the human eye, that can be plotted by the computer.