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Law enforcement training in the virtual world

The new VR program training all levels of law enforcement
Posted at 8:54 AM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 12:44:41-04

BOISE, IDAHO — Anyone in law enforcement can tell you how dangerous their job is, which makes constant training an essential part of the profession. When it comes to firearms and situational training, a new method has been developed that has the potential to save money and time, all while avoiding the possibility of serious injury. We put on the headset to show you the future of law enforcement training.

It might look like I'm just playing a virtual reality video game, but under the headset, I'm actually training for specific situations that anyone in law enforcement could have to deal with.

"Responding to an active shooter, dealing with somebody that is a threat to the general public, having to deescalate a situation that may lead to violence," said Forward Movement Training Owner and Operator Andrew Coussens.

This specific system is called Chimera, one of many different virtual reality programs that puts the user into various situations where quick thinking and fast reactions will make the difference between hometown hero, or, to be blunt, game over, man.

"It's got components like a video game but it's got data-driven capacity than anything else out there right now. So the data is valuable to law enforcement on the backend, seeing what they did right, seeing what they did wrong, seeing how they can improve," said Coussens.

That means instant feedback at the end of a scenario with stats like how many shots were fired, your target percentage, and how long it took to deescalate the situation. And unlike live training scenarios, there's almost no setup time.

"This could literally be opened up, in any room, whether it's a small room, a large room, what have you, and can be deployed within five minutes and someone is already in the training capacity. You could be over and done and analyzed within 15, 20 minutes," said Coussens.

Paul Lim is a deputy sheriff with the Ada County Sheriff's Office as well as a firearms instructor. He sees plenty of benefits from Chimera.

"Cost factor's huge! These days, bullets are about a dollar a piece. And not to mention I have to drive all the way out to the range. It's hot today, it's 103. I could come in here, it's air conditioned. I can shoot much stress free, it's a lot safer in here. I don't have to put on a headset and worry about the sound. I can do a lot of training in a short period of time without having to waste a lot of time driving out to the range," said Deputy Sheriff with the Ada County Sheriff's Office Paul Lim.

But he aware of it's limits.

"It's never gonna be compared to the real thing. Having that headset on, it's kind of like a video game. There is a little bit of stress factor, the artificial stress factor built in, especially when there's other people watching obviously and then with the instructor there, but it's nothing like going to the range and shooting live rounds," said Lim.

But with updates and improvements constantly coming, it could just be the beginning of law enforcement training.

"I think this is the wave of the future. I don't think anything is this far along and has this much date driven results for these officers to see exactly how they performed in each individual scenario, analyze it, and decide to do something different next time," said Coussens.

Another important feature in the Chimera system is in-scenario interactions, where instead of requiring the use of a firearm, you might be able to deescalate a situation through conversation, which is what law enforcement hopes for in any situation. Forward Movement Training just recently got the system, and is hoping to get local law enforcement training with it in the near future.