VR Technology Being Used In De-Escalation Training For Police

Officers are given a chance to experience confrontations from the civilians perspective.

Police officers operating out of the Strasburg Police Department in Strasburg, Virginia have begun receiving supplemental VR training centered specifically around crisis de-escalation. Put simply, this specialized immersive training provides officers with the skills and knowledge necessary to recognize and effectively defuse potentially dangerous encounters.

“It puts you in the officer’s shoes and then that person’s shoes. Different perspectives,” said training coordinator Lt. Lonnie Conner according to The Northern Virginia Daily. “This is geared toward de-escalation, so it’s not about shoot/don’t shoot, or anything like that. It’s about being able to recognize and then being able to talk. Crisis intervention.”

Officers participating in VR training // Credit: Pennsylvania Police Dept.

The nonlethal training program features three unique crisis scenarios in which to participate. Each of these offer participants several options for how to proceed after encountering a potentially dangerous individual, from asking the individual to lower their weapon to calling for backup. Officers are also given the chance to step into the shoes of said individual, offering a unique perspective on what it’s like to face down the barrel of a gun. In addition to providing useful techniques for conflict resolution and de-escalation, this training program is also designed to assist officers in dealing with those suffering from various developmental disorders, such as autism.

“When you can change that perspective and I can put myself in somebody with a mental crisis or that has autism,” added Capt. Jason Ford. “These will help officers identify those things and that’s what’s big, that’s what’s important.”

Strasford PD’s specialized immersive training was made possible thanks to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, worth $80,000. Officers who’ve participated in the training have responded with positive feedback.

“The ones that [have] actually used it, it’s pretty mind-blowing,” said Conner. “Number one, like for me, we don’t know what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes. This lets you do that.”

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Feature Image Credit: Rich Cooley / Daily

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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