EAST PEORIA – A new type of police training aims to reduce deadly force and increase awareness for police officers.
Officer Ryan Billingsley has served with East Peoria police for eight and half years. Wednesday, he responded to high-intensity calls.
“It’s not real life, but it gets us so close that it gets us so much better than what we’ve had before,” said Michael Oyer, Director of the Central Illinois Police Training Center.
The training center and VirTra are providing 360 degree simulations to officers in central Illinois. It puts them in a tough spot, and teaches them how to deal with diverse groups of people, using situations from all over the country.
“I would like to bring this so I can increase their training in cultural diversity, situational awareness, shoot/don’t shoot,” Oyer said.
“We want to deescalate it, we want them to use good verbal commands, we want them to be able to position themselves correctly. Deescalate the situation and everybody goes home safe,” said Steve Diiullo, with VirTra.
The 360 degree view forces officers to focus on their surroundings, which play a vital role in these situations.
“When you’re facing just one direction, and you know, everything’s coming from one direction, you’re going to react a certain way. You may lose some of your tactical edge or what’s going on,” Oyer said.
Things most of us don’t think of when it comes to police work. However, one wrong move could be deadly, especially for officers who don’t face these situations often or train regularly.
“We want them to train out in high stress situations in here before they get into the one or two times in their 20 year careers,” Diiullo said.
It also helps department’s better focus on individual needs.
“You can get a better idea of your officers head, where he’s at in the game. Possibly guide him in the right direction,” Oyer said.
The full system would cost a department close to $200,000, but the police training center says it hopes to find grants or other money help make the purchase.