Local law enforcement officers and cadets are now using virtual reality to train for the future.
Mercyhurst Police Academy’s new virtual reality simulator replicates real-life situations that can’t be practiced in a classroom or gun range. Bill Hale, with the Mercyhurst Police Academy, says this training gives officers something to fall back on.
“Out of the 30 scenarios that they have available to them. We can adjust these to either comply or not comply and it depends on how the individual does inside that scenario. So, you learn by making mistakes here and not out on the streets.” Hale said.
The training is aimed at teaching officers the right way to handle and calm a possibly violent situation.
“Is this the cutting edge, I think so. It’s only going to get better than what we have here.” Hale said.
Some of the scenarios include mass shootings and talking to a suicidal woman. To make the virtual reality experience more realistic, they actually have someone controlling the person to say things like “Get away from me” and “Don’t come over here.”
“We had one scenario. The guy was very aggressive. He was sleeping in a laundry room and loitering there and he was being very aggressive when you first make initial contact. It was great to see how things you could say to him and talk him down.”
The hospital is working with the police academy to help officers learn about the mental health aspect.
“If they are in an acute situation. Things can get out of control pretty quickly. So, helping police officers and other first responders see right away that it is a mental health concern and help them de-escalate the situation.” said Mandy Fauble, Western Behavioral Health at Safe Harbor.