Virtual Reality helps police officers in dealing with difficult situations | Technology

Virtual Reality helps police officers in dealing with difficult situations | Technology
Virtual Reality helps police officers in dealing with difficult situations 

Virtual Reality helps police deal with stressful situations

WESTFIELD — The officer in the virtual-reality goggles spoke sternly, but not in an excited tone, as he promised the alley would be a safe ride home, if only the shocker walked away with a knife.

“It’s slowing down the situation. They named the person. They talked to him about getting help,” Westfield Police Capt. Jerome Pitoniac said after showing a video of officers in Maryland training with VR glasses. A police trainer played the role of an alcoholic.

The officer receiving training uses a fake firearm.

Within about a month, officers from Westfield’s 82-man force will be able to perform similar de-escalation training on the same virtual reality equipment that State Sen. Thanks to the $59,800 secured by Wellis, D-Westfield.

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The manufacturer, Apex, gave Westfield a 50% discount on the $119,600 system, he said. The company hopes to put it into widespread use here. Now, the only city on Cape Cod is the Barnstable Police Department.

“No department of our size has this kind of technology in-house,” said Chief Lawrence Valierre. “This is the future of police training. To me, it’s amazing.”

Valiere said the processes of de-escalation and use of force are at the top of the mind for police forces across the country. Westfield, he said, also wants to provide equipment to neighboring departments, Wellis recalled that this type of “shoot-do-shoot” simulated training had been reported in the US Army Reserves.

He said that in his conversations with the police, he pointed out that domestic violence situations are particularly dangerous.

“Maybe (this device) will save a life,” Wellis said.

Pitoniak said the beauty of the system is that it allows police to train at any time of day or night. If the night shift is slow, the police can take training at the station itself. Now such work can be done only at the firing range and only during the day.

Source: Jim Kinney, Mass Live, Direct News 99 

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