Virtual Reality and the Future of Police Training

Demonstration of a trainee using the flashlight while in the virtual environment for police training.
Demonstration of a trainee using the flashlight while in the virtual environment for police training.

Surprisingly policing dates back as far as 3,000 BCE in the Greek and Egyptian empires. The word “police” draws its origin is from the Greek word for city, “polis.” Police have changed a lot over the past 5,000 years, and officers are no longer armed with spears. However, the police training officers receive has had a slower evolution to date.

Over time one thing about the job has remained the same. Officers are tasked with dealing with the problems an individual or group cannot handle on their own. Police are required to be equal parts servants, warriors and social workers to solve these increasingly difficult problems. Police training in the mid-1900s lasted days to a few weeks. Now it’s not uncommon for training academies to last up to nine months. Yet, the way we train officers is still much the same.

Legacy Police Training

Trainees spend thousands of hours in a classroom learning laws, city codes, cultures, and protocols. They spend hundreds of hours learning defensive tactics and working on physical endurance. However, in comparison, they spend a tiny fraction of the time bringing all the skills necessary to be a police officer together. Police training in 2020 should be more cohesive and allow trainees to experience real-world scenarios in the safe environment of the academy.

Over the last two decades, technology has been a great asset to police training. Many departments use simulators, but the technology used has not changed significantly since the early 1990s. Reality-based training (RBT) uses actors with fake ammunition rounds which is expensive to staff and produce. Trainees also use simulators where they stand shooting at video screens that do not react or interact with the trainees. Shouldn’t the police be training on 21st-century technology? Absolutely.

Virtual Reality Technology

Today companies like SURVIVR totally immerse trainees into virtual environments without ever stepping foot outside of the academy. In these virtual scenarios, trainees are not only put into use of force scenarios but are challenged to deescalate the situation with a dynamic and responsive suspect. Police trainees should not be standing and shooting at screens because that only teaches one component, to use force. Police training should include officer presence, calming communication, active listening, the study of body language as well as the use of force fundamentals. Through the use of virtual reality, SURVIVR allows the trainees to pull the critical skills they’ve learned in the academy into practice without the use of staged sets or actors.

SURVIVR is a totally comprehensive and immerse virtual reality platform for police training. Policing has changed, isn’t it time the training changed with it? To learn more about SURVIVR, request a demo.

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