The Spokane Police Department is implementing virtual reality into officer training

SPOKANE, Wash. — Officers at the Spokane Police Academy were able to get realistic training through virtual reality Thursday afternoon. The department is one of the first 100 agencies to begin implementing virtual reality into their training methods.

SPD says the new form of training gives officers another way to be better prepared to keep the community safe.

Inside the VR headset, officers are put into several everyday scenarios and tasked with responding in the best possible way. In some cases, they reach for a Taser or a gun to deal with the situation.

“Our ultimate goal in any situation is to de-escalate and create a safe environment for all involved. Be it citizens, neighbors or a person experiencing a crisis. That’s our ultimate goal, and it just gives us more opportunities and tools to learn that,” Spokane Police Lt. Steve Woll said.

At the end of each scenario there is a summary of the results.

“We can debrief and talk about the good roles they’ve done, the lessons they’ve learned. We can track and record the script so we can pick it up and say, ‘Did we think about this?’ Did we use good vocabulary? Did we think about this issue in the script?” Vol said.

In one scenario, an off-duty officer came into contact with a person dealing with a schizophrenic episode. During the scenario, the officers were given choices about how best to proceed, such as not disclosing her status as an officer and simply acting as a concerned citizen.

The officer talked the man down and eventually got him to help with the script.

“It makes you part of the game, which is what we’re trying to do here. Give the officers the experience to learn and the experience here at the training center, not on the streets,” Wohl said.

Taser unit company Axon conducted the training on Thursday and it will be rolled out to all officers starting the first week of February.

READ: ‘Insolence level on the rise’: Spokane police use special patrols to catch shoplifters

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