Oct. 1, 2020

Currently, law enforcement departments are facing increasingly heavier workloads, officers are dealing with more duties and agencies nationwide are finding themselves under more scrutiny. So how are instructors expected to properly prepare officers in preparation for the field and with heavy community inspection? While this is a difficult task, it is not impossible.

Instructors can utilize state-of-the-art training equipment, such as VirTra’s immersive police training simulators, to train officers in a variety of critical skills. For law enforcement, all simulators are equipped with nationally-certified curriculum—on topics ranging from crisis de-escalation to mental illness to contact and cover concepts—for free. In addition to critical curriculum, these simulators promote well-rounded training.

Improving Training

Each police firearms simulator is a powerful, versatile training tool. Imagine the ability to train in a variety of environments without having to leave the classroom. Upon stepping into the simulator, will your officers find themselves in a domestic dispute in a neighborhood? A fight in an empty parking lot? The edge of a hiking trail with a suicidal man? Just as the environments are extensive, so are the skills learned from each scenario.

After entering the simulator, officers become fully immersed in their surroundings. Instructors can watch as the officer quickly responds to threats, body language or subtle facial cues on the screen just as they would in the field.

To increase the training realism, VirTra offers a range of less lethal tools that pair with each simulator. Law enforcement can be equipped with and deploy TASER and OC spray in the simulator to prepare for situations that require less lethal options while practicing de-escalation. Together, these less lethal options help round out any use of force training program.

Besides versatility and realism, police simulators are also cost-effective for departments. VirTra offers the STEP program—Subscription Training and Equipment Partnership—to ease worries about large upfront expenses or obsolete equipment. Rather than purchasing the equipment, the STEP program provides the customizable and immersive training solution through a monthly subscription. All maintenance, service, support, scenarios and updates are included to provide the best, most up-to-date training for departments nationwide.

Other significant cost savings come from ranges, bullets and actors—or rather, the lack thereof. Instead of spending time and money carting officers to the range, instructors can utilize the V-Marksmanship program to train on a variety of targets and courses difficult to replicate elsewhere. By training on the simulator, departments only need CO2 for the CO2 magazines, not the expensive bullets. Or when going through scenarios, all actors are on-screen, thus eliminating the need to find, train and use different actors.

Public Perception

A common practice for VirTra customers is to host a “Media Day”. These are opportunities for reporters and/or community members to visit the department and watch officers go through various real-life situations—or experience the simulator for themselves.

Oftentimes, reporters and citizens are excited to engage in the simulator and interact with the high-end technology. However, it soon becomes apparent that these judgmental use of force simulators are not toys, but rather incredibly realistic, stress-inducing training environments.

One recent example of a media day is the Orange County Sheriff’s Office opening their simulator to members of OCSO’s African American and Hispanic Citizens Advisory Committee. Before stepping into the simulator, citizens were given a TASER and firearm outfitted with a recoil kit and CO2 magazine. After brief instructions, members had to engage in the scenario and try to de-escalate or mitigate harm as much as possible.

After experiencing the simulator, Orlando Mayor’s Municipal Labor Committee Commission member Reggie McGill said, “It’s nothing like what you see on television. I thought it would be much easier. Each one of you put your life on the line trying to protect others, so I have a greater appreciation for OPD after experiencing this personally.”

By experiencing these difficult situations, the public can receive a better understanding on what life in the field is like. It is a rare chance to walk in an officer’s shoes in a safe, controlled environment. Departments who are interested in hosting their own media day can contact VirTra’s marketing department at marketing@virtra.com

VirTra’s state-of-the-art de-escalation and judgmental use of force training simulators are an incredible benefit to departments everywhere. Instructors can benefit from nationally-certified coursework and a variety of scenarios. Departments benefit from a cost-effective training solution that promotes skill growth and transfer. Officers benefit from well-rounded training and better preparation for the field. Lastly, the community benefits from better officers and increased understanding of police life. To learn more about these immersive simulators, contact a VirTra specialist.

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