Virtual Reality for Police
A young man aimed his gun and fired at the Fairfax County police force last month. Luckily no one died, and the police chief gives credit to that outcome towards new policies and training regiments that help officers make more opportune split-second choices in order to preserve lives around them.
The new training regimen utilizes around 600 produced video scenarios, some of which have different variations depending on the actions taken.
“Drop the chainsaw or I’m going to Taser you!”
Two officers stand about twenty feet in front of a big screen. They have to work together mentally, first assessing the predicament in front of them.
In one of the video scenarios, a woman acting peculiar reaches for something in her jacket. It turns out to be an asthmatic inhaler. She then walks away and is now no longer considered to be a threat. However in the very next video, she has a knife instead of an inhaler.
“Drop the knife!”
In this unit, the target lady points around the corner in her home to where the officers happen upon a rather vicious attack. One guy is standing over the other and consistently hitting him with what appears to be an automotive implement such as a rod from a jack.
The police holler at him to stop but the guy ignores them and continues with his attack. The officers then follow the proper code and taser the guy to eliminate the threat.
“I think this it is invaluable training. The opportunity to be in here…integrating with the screen, it’s as close to real life as you can get. I think it’s outstanding,” said Officer Matt Owens.
“It allows us, if they do make mistakes we can run it again. What did you see, what didn’t you see?” said Lt. Mike Shamblin who was one of the pioneers helping to secure funding for the new materials and products needed for the equipment.
The new and revised use of force, critical decision making training regimen has been on the modeling block for the past few years, according to Chief of Police Edwin Roessler.
The police shooting of John Geer in 2013 ended with fatality and helped add the urgency and need for more training says Police Chief Edwin Roessler.
“Unfortunately, there are events that have bad outcomes Lawful and not awful,” said Roessler.
The new regimen began last week and already 150 police men and women have taken it. The objective is to have the entire police force run through it as often as they can to improve their rate of success in any given situation. The video training can also be done in a mobile format and be taken to the different police stations across the United States.
The new regimen also includes fake scenarios with volunteers who act in various situations. We watched one version in which a guy played the part of a suicidal man with a knife. The detectives who ‘arrived on site’ successfully took the man’s knife away from him, and then, through a calm and caring discussion, talked the man into coming along with them to get the proper help.
Real clips of police attacks are also utilized in the new regimen. These sessions involve group chats about what happened, if there could have been a different ending, and how they would personally have approached the same predicament.