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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A police officer’s decision to shoot or not to shoot can rattle communities, lead to protests, and even divide the nation.

Dallas police officers are now trying change public opinion about it with a sort of video game.

“I have been in situations where shootings did occur,” said Dallas Police Officer Michael Mata.

He showed CBS 11’s JD Miles how a man with a sharp object can attack from more than 10 feet away before an officer can draw his gun or Taser.

The Dallas Police Association offers this explanation when defending officers who fatally shot a mentally ill man holding a screwdriver.

The DPA invited Miles and other reporters, along with city and county leaders, to go through a real police training simulator.

It shows how domestic violence calls can lead an officer to shoot a man holding only a cooking tool.

“We are trying to educate the public on what police officers do,” said Ron Pinkston, Dallas Police Association President.

The interactive scenarios show how even a teenage girl can be dangerous and how an unarmed man can get killed during a traffic stop.

It’s a demonstration that officers hope will explain controversial shootings from here to Ferguson, Missouri.  Police are also using the simulator to show how cop watchdog groups can interfere.

The simulator is designed to train officers when to use their weapons but the device itself, could also become a powerful political weapon for police departments.

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