Before becoming a law enforcement officer, there are a few pathways students can take. Usually, they will study Criminal Justice in college before attending a police academy. Some students, however, begin their interest in a law enforcement career early enough and begin learning in high school. Career and technical education (CTE) programs have allowed high school students to take courses based on individual interests – including law enforcement.

Tom White of Taft Union High School in California understands the unique learning needs of high school-aged students and has combined that knowledge with the technology and efficiency of a VirTra simulator. Using a V-100® simulator, White’s students have improved their communication skills and better understand the split-second decision-making processes that officers go through on a day-to-day basis.

White was able to fund the V-100 through grant funds, assuring that there are grants available for CTE programs. Additionally, White is currently in the process of obtaining a grant for a V-DTS™ – VirTra’s Driver Training Simulator—to allow for further realism in training and expects to have the Driver Simulator in the next few months.

“You can’t take a student into the field at 16 or 17. Having the driver simulator allows me to simulate them in their own squad car and simulate a call going out on the radio” said White, whose goal is to have students operating the V-DTS when answering a call, then traveling to the destination. Then, students will step out of the V-DTS and enter the V-100 to “respond” to the situation.

Although the V-DTS is still in the purchasing process, simply using the V-100 has allowed White to see notable results and improvement in decision making skills and communication fluency. He has seen 25-30% of his students develop leadership qualities and the ability to confidently give direction. Being able to practice in a simulated environment that is both safe and realistic will allow young students to develop the proper mindsets and prepare themselves early on for a difficult but rewarding career in law enforcement.