CBS4 rides with officers as they learn high-speed driving techniques on road course

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LAWRENCE, Ind. -- Police officers are going back to the basics, and learning how to drive safely on their way to scenes and in pursuits.

Lawrence police have been holding Emergency Vehicle Operations training all week. It's an annual training that includes a road course, as officers weave their way through cones at both low and high speeds.

Sgt. Tom Reuss, an instructor for 16 years, took CBS4's Jill Glavan through the course.

"If we get them to drive with the proper skills they should be using, it makes them safer and it makes the public safer," Reuss said.

The course is intended to simulate evasive actions, as well as handling of an officer's car on tight turns and under high-pressure situations.

"We induce a little bit of stress with this course. It’s designed to be narrow, it makes the officer work," Reuss said.

Reuss pointed out that, while people may not think of driving at the top of an officer's priority list, it's actually a huge part of the job.

"You hear a lot about firearms and shootings and things like that. That’s not a daily routine that police officers are involved in, but you see a police officer driving down the street ... all the time," Reuss said. "This (car) is just as deadly as a firearm if improperly used."

Many departments have reviewed their pursuit policies in recent years, as some dangerous situations and even deaths arise.

In Lawrence, the issue is personal. Officer Craig Herbert died in 2005 during a pursuit with a suspect.

Reuss and his fellow trainer in the department are holding training for every Lawrence officer this week. In total more than 80 men and women will go through the course as part of their annual training.

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