Police Quest Used in Real-Life Police Officer Training

The following article is reprinted with permission from LAW and ORDER, October 1988. L&O is an independent magazine for police management professionals.

Product Spotlight:
Police Quest — Review of a Patrol Simulation

You are hiding behind a bush in the park waiting for the drug deal to go down. It does. You have the evidence you need. You shout, "Halt! Police!" and rush out from cover.

Suddenly, the dealer turns on you and shoots. You go down. Blood is pouring from a fatal chest wound. The music starts and a warning sign appears on the computer screen saying you made a mistake in police procedure. With that, Police Quest, a computer-adventure simulation, ends.

Why, you ask, is a computer game being reviewed in a serious law enforcement publication? Because Police Quest is a serious training program.


When our department first recieed a copy of this program, I was determined that we were not going to turn our training computer into a game machine. After reading the documentation included with the simulation, and the background on the program creater Jim Walls — a 15-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, I was sufficiently impressed to give it a try.

After placing the program in an eare of the computer that only I could get at, I started the game. I quickly found that it was definitely based on good police procedure. If you did not follow those procedures, you were soon in trouble. I looked for how much the element of luck influences the game. Luck does not play a part in successfully completing the program. The simulation is based on skill and knowledge. Lastly, I looked for what specific training the simulation offers. At this point, I was no longer thinking of the program as a game. The depth of training is enormous. With that, my last objection melted away.

The next test was to see what happened when others were introduced to Police Quest. The documentation that has to be read and understood is extensive. It is more difficult than the disk/video training materials we use on our computer system.

I introduced one patrol officer to the simulation and asked him to try it and tell me what he thought. When I returned from my vacation, I found that the number of saved simulation files had multiplied beyond what I had done, and even beyond that of my appointed tester.

It seems that other officers had observed him working on the simulation and had gotten caught up in the action. They demanded to have a turn of their own. It quickly turned into a mild competition to determine who could finish with the highest score. You can successfully complete the program with less than a perfect score, but the higher the number, the better you observed proper procedure.

I also observed that squard room conversation between officers was now less concerned with fishing and more oriented toward discussing proper procedures. These topics were raised by Police Quest. It is very unsettling to see yourself in the persona of Sonny Bonds getting blown away because he did one thing wrong. The fact that our officers were interested in such things — without waiting for one of our officers to actually get hurt — was very encouraging.

Our established computer/video training program on defensive tactics began to get renewed play. What at first looked like a fun little computer game, has proven to be a rather high powered training too which our officers want to utilize.


After the respon se I received in my department, I encouraged the Chief of another department to try Police Quest. He also was of the mind that his department's computer be used for business and not games. However, he received the same response from his officers that I did.

There is no rule saying training has to be boring. Making it more interesting will enhance the results. For experienced officers, it offers a reminder of what the full procedure is. For recruits, it demonstrates actual use proper procedures safely.

I found an additional advantage for the experienced officer — the program's police humor and understanding of the saltier words in the language. There is a great relief in harmlessly venting your daily frustrations in dealing with the public.


The Police Quest package contains three 5 1/4 and two 3 1/2 inch disks. Therefore, you do not have to specify which size disk you use. It is easy to put on a hard drive as copy protection has been eliminated. This also means that back-up copies can easily be made for floppy disk drive-only use. You also receive a map of the town of Lytton. This is handy for learning the patrol area. The Indoctrination Guide is a must read. It covers everything from law to personal hygiene. When starting the simulation, you find yourself in the station hallway in the persona of Sonny Bonds. The shift is about to begin and you have to obtain your equipment and go to the shift briefing. During the course of the simulation, you have several tours of duty. You will experience real-life law enforcement situations and be asked to make decisions which will affect the outcome of the simulation. You will meet the lowest of the low, high-rollers, ordinary citizens, and even a few women that your mother — and definitely your wife — would not approve of.

If you do well in the game, you will rise to undercover narcotics detective and solve the case. If not, well, you will spend a lot of time using the Restore Game command.

This review was written by Sgt. Harry Johnson of the Allegan POlice Department, Allegan, Michigan.


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