The next generation of police training arrives in Brooklyn, NY.
When it comes to the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau—New York Cities primary local resource to guard against international and domestic terrorism—there’s no such thing as being overly prepared. Now, through the help of location-based VR technology, the NYPD is training hundreds of officers in multiple scenarios that would be impossible to recreate in real-life.
During a week-long pilot program in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hundreds of NYPD officers underwent location-based VR training that took them through a variety of highly-realistic active shooter scenarios; all of which based on real incidences.
Developed by V-Armed—an immersive development team dedicated to creating large-scale 3D VR training for law enforcement, first responders, and engineers—the freeroam VR simulation recreates several real-life shooter and hostage scenarios in which officers must subdue a virtual target without endangering the lives of any civilians.
“It adds another whole component. You can change the scenarios. You don’t need that much space. So we’re taking a good look at,” says NYPD Counterterrorism Deputy Chief John O’Connell while speaking to ABC7.
“I get more scenarios in, in a much shorter time… you get really immersed. There’s a lot of heart pounding and it’s very realistic,” adds NYPD Counterterrorism Officer John Schoppmann.
The program offers a variety of options for tracking the progress of the participating officers, such as their accuracy and bullet trajectory, as well as the quality of their negotiations. Supervisors monitor the officers in training throughout the simulation, using the software to track where their muzzles are pointed and identify any weapon safety issues.
“Everything we are doing inside of the virtual world is being recorded and we can gather statistics,” states V-Armed founder Ezra Krausz. “So once you have a hundred people doing the same thing we can draw conclusions from it.”
“Almost all the scenarios that have been developed here and that we’ve used during the week here are based on real incidents,” says LSU instructor Kevin Burd.
Using V-Armed’s highly-customizable simulations, officers are able to train in a variety of hand-made scenarios that would be impossible to conduct in real-life; this includes training for an active shooter scenario at the World Trade Center Memorial or a hostage situation in a public school.
Using a simple drag-and-drop system, users are free to populate these scenes with a variety of enemies and civilians; such as a scared bystander too busy filming the altercation to vacate the area, as well as additional gunmen who will immediately fire upon seeing an officer.
In the video provided above, engineers show how they created a realistic school shooter scenario by populating the scene with various civilian and enemy NPC’s; dragging and dropping characters in specific positions throughout the highly-detailed environment.
While this marks the first time the NYPD has employed VR technology into its training curriculum, VR-based security education has existed for some time.
Services such as Apex Officer and Street Smarts VR have been offering law enforcement professionals their own proprietary training solutions; removing the need for human actors, expensive training grounds, and various other hurdles that come along with conventional security training.
As location-based VR technology becomes more commonplace, there’s no doubt we’ll begin seeing even more law enforcement departments embracing immersive technology as a cost-effective training solution.