BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s a tough job. Being a cop can be both rewarding and filled with anxiety. These days the Baltimore City Police Department is under the microscope for controlling crime and its policies. Now there’s a push by the brass to get the highest caliber officers on the force.

Kai Jackson was invited to experience the process.

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It’s a gut-wrenching experience, and as close as a civilian can get in a cop’s shoes. It’s called the Firearms Training Simulator or FATS.

“Listen. This is a tool. That’s all this is,” said firearms instructor Lt. John Cromwell, referring to a gun.

“This is your true weapon,” he continued as he pointed to his head. “We really push that.”

At a gun range nestled in the woods of northeastern Baltimore County, Kai Jackson joined police as they fired simulated guns. Making a mistake there was OK. But on the street, cops don’t have that luxury.

“You may have to do that. But you should have done everything within your power to have avoided that. And we really try to push that,” Cromwell said.

The force is about 3,000 officers strong, yet there are openings.  City police are aggressively trying to recruit new officers.

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Police say despite all of their training, the job is still dangerous. They point to the incident on New Year’s Eve at Monument and N. Rose Streets. Police say officers arresting one man were blindsided and physically attacked by another man.

Officers and recruits around the state use a special course to learn safe and tactical driving skills.

“Well, we try to teach them to be proactive about driving. We’re trying to teach them to be safe about it,” said Sgt. Jackson.

Whether in a car or on foot patrol in a district, officers have to be in good physical condition to do the job.

“It’s what I expected and I expect it to get more difficult, which is what I hoped for,” said Patrick McCarthy, recruit.

All of this training is designed to ensure good standards of policing and help officers respond appropriately and swiftly to a myriad of situations.

“What’s the goal here? Well, unity is big. We want the trainees to believe that they are part of a family, that there is something larger than themselves,” said Efren Edwards, training instructor.

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The Baltimore City Police Department requires applicants to have at least a high school diploma or GED. To learn more about how to join, click here.