Police face many scenarios where they must make life-or-death decisions in an instant. As a result, much emphasis is placed on training, and how to react to reprieved threats. In an effort to increase the quality of training given to police officers and guide them on how to react in complex situations, a police department in Scranton, Pennsylvania has turned to virtual reality (VR).
For police officers, the traditional methods of classroom instruction and shooting-range practice no longer suffice to prepare officers for the full range of responsibilities.
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Justice Assistance Grant has allowed the department in Scranton to set up a new simulator that can create a 300-degree field of view using borderless screens along with five digital cameras that interface with the screens.
The system is capable of recreating hundreds of use-of-force scenarios, which may include incidents involving people with mental health problems in order to better recreate the complete situations that police officers can be confronted with.
Police Chief Carl Graziano said: “It’s about as close to reality as you can get without it being reality. It really tests the senses of the officers in a training atmosphere. You really believe you’re in that situation.”
Bill Gaughan of the City Council said: “Police officers are engaged in situations that can be at times confusing — when to use force, when to not use force. We’ve seen across the country over the past few years some of these situations escalate. The Police Department is taking a really proactive approach to use this technology to train our officers.”
The Police Department are planning to make the training system available to other law enforcement agencies, with several having already expressed an interest in using it. Graziano suggested that having ordinary citizens also experience the VR system would give them a greater understanding of the challenges that police officers can face.
Further news on new and innovative uses for VR and other immersive technologies will continue to be covered on VRFocus.