The impact of VR-based officer training
Phoenix PD deployed VR training to roughly 85 officers. To assess the impact VR training was having on officers, Phoenix PD administered surveys throughout the training implementation process. Their evaluations determined that the program significantly enhanced their officers' confidence in carrying out their duties:
- 81% of participants found that at least one VR training scenario had effectively prepared them to adapt their approach to a call.
- 60% of participants reported that at least one VR training scenario had encouraged them to see things from another perspective.
- 51% of participants revealed they had applied at least one tactic learned in VR training to their work.
Phoenix PD chose Axon’s VR Training platform as their VR training provider. “As we developed this relationship, it become clear Axon was leading the industry in VR Training,” said Aimee Smith, Commander, Phoenix PD. “Their technology, customer service and passion for police work is excellent. Their experience in the Law Enforcement field has helped with their responsiveness and flexibility in adapting this new technology in our profession. This experience translates to solutions that actually work.”
Phoenix PD had officers go through Axon’s Community Engagement Training program. Developed by law enforcement subject matter experts, this program was built to prepare officers to capably deal with any real-world scenario. The training places officers in immersive, virtual environments where they are asked to de-escalate complex situations to achieve successful outcomes. Phoenix officers were taught to use the established observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) framework to navigate branching, multi-stage narratives that covered calls-for-service involving topics like Alzheimer’s, autism, schizophrenia, suicide, domestic violence, peer intervention and profound agitation and encouraged officers to make high-stakes decisions based on understanding and empathy.
The future of police training
The success of this study has inspired Phoenix PD, said Commander Smith. “We are looking to expand this [training] across other precincts and into our basic training academy, measuring its impact on officers' performance and outcomes. We hope to find the initial study was an indicator of what’s to come.”
Commander Smith sees that standard approaches to training no longer fit the needs of modern policing. To properly prepare officers to cope with the challenges they face every day, departments need to deploy affordable, flexible and comprehensive training solutions like VR training.