Mock village for IMPD scenario-based recruit training nears completion

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IMPD Deputy Chief Catherine Cummings is joined by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and officers at the unveiling of the mock village. (IBJ photo/Taylor Wooten)

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has begun scenario-based training with recruits using a newly-constructed miniature village outside the IMPD Academy on the city’s far-east side.

It contains 25 shed-like mock apartments, businesses, restaurants, and other real-world facilities you would find in a neighborhood. The village is named Hershyville after IMPD Field Training Officer Kevin Hershberger, who came up with the concept. Recruits will use the privately-funded space to run through common scenarios found in 911 calls, officials said Wednesday.

The department used $200,000 in private funds disbursed by the Central Indiana Police Foundation and donated by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to build the site. Relatives and friends of officers donated labor and materials.

Recruits will run through scenarios such as domestic disturbances, suspicious person reports, mental health situations and those involving substance abuse, among others.

“Hershyville is about understanding people, understanding how to use your voice, your body language, your tone of voice and to de-escalate a situation through communication and to ultimately come to a peaceful resolution,” Hershberger said.

Field training officers will play roles in scenarios written by Hershberger based on 911 calls as recruits attempt to apply what they have learned at the training academy. During the exercise, instructors will closely monitor the recruit’s behavior and actions, and provide verbal guidance.

“I know the training that’s going to go on in this village is going to save lives,” IMPD Deputy Chief Catherine Cummings told reporters.

A mock convenience store situated near a mock bike shop in Hershyville. (IBJ photo/Taylor Wooten)

The facility is still under construction. Once complete, it will include furnished structures representing a coffee shop, a bike shop, a restaurant, a lounge, and a homeless encampment. It will likely be fully open by spring, Cummings said.

Some cities, like Atlanta and Austin, Texas, have spent millions on building training grounds that span acres. These projects spurred protests from residents concerned that the tactical practice could contribute to the militarization of the police.

The Atlanta operation, which advocates have dubbed “Cop City,” will cost $90 million and span 85 acres. Cummings told reporters it’s not similar to what IMPD has built with Hershyville.

“This is designed and it is built to teach our officers how to respond and how to use their communication skills, how to critically think, how to problem solve, how to take a step back,” Cummings said.

Hershberger said the training village differs, too, in that officers won’t play out extreme situations or use weapons.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the city’s commitment to IMPD is shown through investments in new training tools and technology.

“This is a real world training tool that can prepare recruits for situations they may very well encounter once they are sworn in,” Hogsett said. “In those situations, they’ll be called to act impartially and with a full awareness of any cultural, medical or other context.”

It will replace locations such as closed schools and businesses that the department has used to train recruits in the past.

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4 thoughts on “Mock village for IMPD scenario-based recruit training nears completion

  1. “Hershberger said the training village differs, too, in that officers won’t play out extreme situations or use weapons.”

    Great. Good job City and IMPD.

  2. I understand the concept. We have enough empty buildings around the city they could utilize. What our animals. Do something positive with this situation which has been promised but nothing has ever been done.

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