Personnel used virtual reality to provide realistic training for officers at the Spokane Police Academy. One of the first 100 organizations to start incorporating virtual reality into its training techniques is the department. According to SPD, the new training format offers officers yet another way to be better prepared to maintain community safety.
Officers must respond appropriately to several realistic scenarios presented to them inside the VR headset. Sometimes, they must also reach for a handgun or stun gun to deal with the situation.
The ultimate objective in any situation, according to Spokane Police Department Lt. Steve Wohl, is to de-escalate and create a safe environment for everyone involved, whether it be the citizenry, the neighbors, or the individual going through a crisis. The officers have more opportunities and resources to learn those thanks to VR, which is the primary goal. A debrief follows the conclusion of each scenario.
The personnel can reflect on their actions, learn from them, and discuss the positive aspects. They can recall the scenario and ask questions like, “Did we think about this?”, “Did we use good verbal?”, “Did we think about this issue in the scenario?” and others.
In one instance, an officer who was not on duty encountered a person having a schizophrenic episode. The officer was given options for proceeding during the scenario, including not disclosing her status as an officer and simply acting as a concerned citizen. The individual was eventually helped in the situation after the officer calmed him down.
“It makes you a part of the game, which is what we’re trying to do here. Give officers the experience to learn and experience here in the training center versus out on the streets,” Wohl said.
The training was provided by the department’s “Axon” stun gun company and will be distributed to all officers beginning in the first week of February.
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