When coming out of a training event that is meant to depict a real-life crisis situation, law enforcement officers should not feel relaxed as if it was a walk in the park. Truly realistic training will get your heart rate up as you go through stressful scenarios with unexpected outcomes – similar to what happens in real life when law enforcement officers enter an unpredictable crisis.
The point is that training needs to be taken seriously, not treated like a video game. With realistic on-screen characters, accurate marksmanship and true-to-life training points, cadets realize that it is serious training. This is why VirTra’s video-based scenarios are filmed in 4K with real people instead of computer-generated images (CGI). CGI that is commonly seen in older simulator programs and virtual reality headsets depict characters that don’t show the same subtle nuances and facial expressions as real people. While the latest movies have shown that CGI has come a very long way, it is not there yet in terms of being an effective method of training.
Lowell Police Department in Massachusetts have recently begun the use of an immersive VirTra V-300® five-screen simulator thanks to the help of grant money. An article in the Lowell Sun discussed Lowell PD’s use of the new technology, how it helps officers and why it is an important method of training. Police Superintendent Kelly Richardson let reporters know how trainees react when placed in the simulator and how it has caused stress responses.
“It’s so real, they’re sweating, the whole nine yards and afterwards they say after something like ‘this is exhausting.’ They actually check their heart rates when they’re done,” Richardson said. The article noted that during an active threat scenario, officers at Lowell PD have shown reactions indicating an adrenaline response.
Another law enforcement member of Lowell PD, Officer Ramos, thought the simulator would be more like a video game. Ramos was surprised to see that the “scenarios resemble the calls he has been dispatched to over his 16 years as an officer” according to the same article.
To learn more about how VirTra can help your agency take training seriously while obtaining necessary skills, contact a product specialist.
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The Billings Police Department recently received the green light from council members and will move forward with their VirTra use of force purchase. Police Chief Rich St. John said that this simulator is the right tool for his officers, providing realistic scenarios to train officers in de-escalation techniques, judgment related to use of force and situational awareness.
The Bonner Springs Police Department is maximizing their training by utilizing the branching scenarios. “With this type of training, if you do go down the wrong path—say you are in the scenario shot or shot at—at the end of the day you still get to go home”—Sgt. Jeff Weissman. This prepares officers for real world crises while teaching how to best de-escalate situations.
Recently, Camden County Police Department was covered on CNN Anderson Cooper’s 360 program. Watch here as Camden’s officers and the reporter both interact with the simulator and perform the best use of force.
During Autism Awareness Month, the Utah Attorney General’s Office published this article discussing how critical autism awareness training is. “We’re astonished at the positive comments from our officers. They feel much better prepared to handle calls for service involving persons with autism and to practice empathy in an effective way.”—Chief Ken Wallentine, West Jordan PD.
The Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) has installed a new VirTra system. The reason is two-fold: to expedite the time it takes to train officers in their Basic Law Enforcement Training program and provide better training for current officers. “Our law enforcement partners can now practice in a simulated but realistic environment that allows trainees to get the decision-making experience necessary in contemporary policing.”—Jim Varrone, CFCC Department Chair of Public Service.
What do you do when there’s no training for “when a suicidal man points a gun toward his own head and walks toward City Hall after being fired from his job”? As Lt. Adam Malacara points out, the best thing to do is train as much as possible in a variety of stressful situations to prepare for anything that may occur in the field.
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The Baltimore County Police Department recently used their VirTra simulator to give lawmakers insight as to what officers experience in the field—especially when use of force becomes an issue. “Officers have to take in a lot of information very quickly and they also have to process that information very quickly and make a decision in a split second,” Training Officer Tabitha Hays.
In Murfreesboro, Texas, the Murfreesboro Police Department is training hard with their V-300 VirTra training simulator. The 300 degrees immerses officers with 5 screens, directional sound and scenarios based on true events. “It really creates as much of a life-like scenario as you can humanly imagine,” —Captain Don Fanning.
Bellevue Police Department uses their VirTra simulator to practice de-escalation and judgmental use of force in a variety of situations. “You already get told on the way what’s going on and somewhat, you don’t know the full details. One of the things that we need to work is just from square one of being a police officer is how to talk to people.” —Sgt. John Stuck.
Next year, the Brentwood Police Department is moving into a new facility with a room dedicated entirely to their VirTra system. “One of the major benefits of using the professionally produced scenarios on the VirTra Simulator is the cultivation of effective verbal communication (de-escalation skills) with subjects during tense situations.” Chief Jeff Hughes.
There has been a lot of discussion about de-escalation in the news. So the Orange County Sheriff’s Office invited members of OSCO’s African American and Hispanic Citizens Advisory Committees to experience de-escalation training first-hand through their VirTra simulator. “It’s nothing like what you see on television. I thought it would be much easier,” Orlando Mayor’s Municipal Labor Committee Commission member.
The Huntsville Police Department recently opened up their training simulator to the public, allowing citizens to step into an officer’s shoes and learn about their policies and procedures. Participants experienced being an officer in a traffic stop and saw how quickly situations can escalate. “Your life depends on a matter of seconds, not even minutes,” Captain Mike Izzo.
A new V-300, 5-screen immersive simulator for the New Bern Police Department will be arriving soon. “The best thing about it is the ability to offer different scenarios. We can go out…and actually take photos of those areas and upload them to the system…and come up with different scenarios that are real life for the officers here,” Captain Marquie Morris-Brown.
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Orlando Police Department recently received their VirTra 300 4K simulator—with 65% of scenarios requiring de-escalation for a successful outcome—which they use to train new recruits and seasoned officers. “Of course law enforcement officer have to make split-second decisions when they go out there and things can change and escalate real quick.” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon.
Recently, Lawrence Jones in his Fox News special “One Nation” explored Camden New Jersey’s department and VirTra simulator. “We really have been able to change the dynamic through community policing,” said Camden Police Chief Joseph D. Wysocki. “For us, it’s a culture, to be a part of it.”
The Wilmington Police Department opens up their training program—and V-300 simulator—to the public through their free use-of-force classes. Civilians receive a one-hour course on policy, then go through the simulator with a pistol outfitted with a drop-in laser recoil kit, retrofitted Axon® TASERs® and simulator-ready OC spray. See civilians learn about judgmental use of force below.
Sioux City police officers are trained in “Verbal Judo”, also known as “de-escalation”. As Sioux City Police Officer Andrew Dutler described it, “everything that we do at our department now, and has been for quite some time, is based on verbal de-escalation principles.” Officers learn the technique, then practice interacting with subjects on the department’s V-180 training simulator.
“You can actually visualize the stress [officers] are going through…a lot of times, that is not what the public sees. What we are trying to get our officers to do is maintain the highest level of proficiency possible” in difficult situations, says Lt. Mark Fox. This is done through their V-300 training simulator and realistic accessories like the Threat-Fire and drop-in laser recoil kits.
The Wallace Community College offers several programs designed to prepare students for their careers, including a VirTra simulator for realistic law enforcement training. Utilizing high-end training technology helps bridge the gap between community college programs and the needs of the criminal justice industry.
Denver Police Academy’s VirTra simulator often portrays difficult, potentially violent situations, designed to prepare trainees for the field. “This training environment is set up to make you have a little anxiety. Here is where we make mistakes, right?” says DPD Technician Tyrone Campbell. Officers learn critical skills about de-escalation and judgmental use of force which they are then able to take into the field.
“I still respect officers and I respect the law, but that is not a job for me.” David Rucker, African American Citizens Advisory Committee. David and other members of the OCSO African American and Latin American Citizens Advisory Committee recently practiced officer de-escalation tactics in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Florida VirTra V-300 simulator.