Virtual Reality simulator trains officers in de-escalation

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2022

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Staff Report

Cordele Assistant Police Chief Jeremy Taylor tried on a virtual reality headset that the department will use to train officers how to de-escalate situations using diplomacy rather than a gun.

The $62,500 machine made by GOVRED, a Nevada technology company that specializes in building virtual reality training technology for the military, law enforcement and first responders. A Law Enforcement Training Grant funded it.

“De-escalation training teaches officers to slow down, create space and use communication techniques to defuse a potentially dangerous situation,” Chief Mike Hathaway said. “Some departments saw an 18 percent drop in use of force the year after it instituted de-escalation training. Since 2010, excessive force complaints there have dropped by 83 percent.”

The user straps on a computer the size of a standard book bag. Cables stick out of almost every corner of the bag and attach to a helmet-like thing. As soon as the helmet is on, the participant is transported to a very realistic, albeit virtual street scene or front yard or deserted steel mill.

“This can be programed to produce almost any situation,” Hathaway said. “The officer is transported to any type of place there could be a call.”

Training will begin  in several weeks.