LA County Sheriff's Department driving course offers trainees a simulation of high-speed car chases

Carlos Granda Image
Friday, March 10, 2023
LA County Sheriff's Department training course simulates car chases
A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department driving course offers trainees a simulated glimpse of what it's like to be in high-speed chase.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Southern Californians know what it's like to watch a high-speed police chase. If you've ever wondered what it feels like, ABC7 found out firsthand.

It was a simulation but it certainly felt real. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department took ABC7's Carlos Granda to a driving course that's as close as a person can get to the real thing.

Here's what he experienced:

The scenario involved a simulated carjacking and a man with a gun. Granda was driving the vehicle pursuing the suspect.

From the moment you get in, you realize how serious it is. You are maneuvering a vehicle through obstacles, just like drivers would on the streets.

Other cars sometimes come by and cut in front of you. You have to make sure to keep others safe as well as yourself. It's all being monitored by a Sheriff's Department supervisor.

LASD Lt. John Haynes said he listens to the radio to make an assessment.

Suspect in custody after lengthy standoff, chase through Compton

A reckless driving suspect was in custody after a wild chase and a standoff with sheriff's deputies in Compton that lasted for hours.

"The deputies might be too excited," Haynes said. "He might realize that the deputies are going into a school zone at 1 p.m. and he might decide to cancel that pursuit."

This is what deputies have to deal with every single day. Angelenos have seen police chases that sometimes end in violent crashes. It's a very serious judgment call to decide if whether to continue with a pursuit or cancel it.

"You have to be constantly looking at the suspect's actions, you have to be monitoring your own actions driving, you're monitoring the radio," Deputy Jeremiah Song said. "There's a lot going on, so ultimately if the suspect's actions are way too dangerous, it is not worth it."

The simulation was intense -- many things happening at once. You have to maneuver the car, stay on the radio, giving updates back to your supervisor, while at the same making sure you don't lose the suspect and watch for public safety. The simulated pursuit only lasted a few minutes but felt a lot longer.

It's a lot to do at once. They're asking you on the radio: "What's your location? What's is your speed? What is the vehicle description?" It's a lot of things to have to do at once and you still have to keep control of the car.

When it's over, you feel the adrenaline and you are nervous.

Being behind the wheel certainly puts a different perspective on these pursuits. This was in a controlled environment -- the ones on the street are all too real.