The right content can help public safety officers develop critical skills and foster empathy
Virtual reality can sometimes be seen as a novelty. However, advances in technology have made VR hardware capable of high-quality graphics and fully immersive environments, which gives it practical applications that go far beyond the realm of play.
Law enforcement professionals around the world have discovered the training benefits of VR and are using it to develop critical abilities, including weapons proficiency and skills training for engaging with individuals suffering from mental health episodes. “Virtual reality gives participants more agency in their learning so they feel more in control,” said Anna Queiroz, Ph.D in a webinar on the topic.
If you’re thinking about investing in virtual reality training for your own agency, it’s important to understand that not all VR police training software is made equal. To get the most out of VR, you must prioritize the solutions that best prepare officers for real-world outcomes. By knowing which features to look for, you’ll be able to set your department up for success while employing time and budget-saving training methods.
Learn more about police officer training with Axon's Law enforcement training: The complete guide.
The benefits of VR police training simulators and software
Why is it advantageous to use virtual reality training instead of more traditional methods? According to Sgt. Jason Spencer of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, “Technology like this makes things safer for them and the community.” There are a number of reasons why:
Lowers training costs: Although VR police training software and hardware require an initial investment, it can save money in the long run by reducing the need for expensive practical scenarios that require time, staff and expendable resources.
Makes scheduling more convenient: VR training modules can easily fit into your team’s busy schedule. Individual training sessions don’t require a massive time investment, making it easier for officers to find time to complete their lessons. “If we have downtime with in-service, where there can be a lot of hurry-up-and-wait situations, we can very easily put people in headsets,” Sgt. Spencer said. Even if you don’t have a planned VR session, you can quickly pull it out and start using it.
Enhanced realism: Traditional training can’t replicate the unpredictable situations in which law enforcement officers regularly find themselves. In VR, trainees have a more immersive environment in which to prepare for an officer’s intense day-to-day duties. As Queiroz put it, “We understand this environment as real. Our body understands and responds as if it is real.”
Supports recruiting efforts: “Right now, recruiting is difficult, but it helps if you’ve got something that’s immediately interesting,” Sgt. Spencer noted. “If you go to a recruiting event and there are a bunch of agencies, you want something that will help you stand out and this will definitely do that.”
5 must-have features for VR police training software
The first thing to look for when shopping for VR law enforcement solutions is the development process. Was the content created with input from those who best know the realities of law enforcement? Is every scenario backed by a significant amount of research? This isn’t an unrealistic request; for example, every Axon VR Training scenario is the result of over 275 research and review hours. You need experts to make expert content, so don’t settle for anything that wasn’t created in consultation with industry leaders.
Comprehensive training modules
There’s much more to VR police training software than simply use-of-force training. Look for simulators and programs that cover crucial skills such as de-escalation, community engagement and split-second decision-making. Additionally, weapon-training simulators should cover more than just firearms; they should also prepare officers to use less-lethal methods such as TASER energy weapons. Comprehensive training modules help ensure that your officers are well-rounded and as prepared as possible should any routine scenario go awry.
Training isn’t just about doing the right thing in the moment; it’s about retaining those lessons and building critical thinking skills that public safety officers can take out into the field with them. To build those skills, your VR training platform should offer increasingly complex scenarios that require quick thinking under evolving conditions. These training modules should build on the ones that came before, testing officers’ retention of previous lessons while putting them in unexpected scenarios that require unprecedented responses.
The ability to measure engagement and performance over time is integral to getting the most out of any training solution. When it comes to practical law enforcement training, it’s important to have access to detailed analytics about each user’s performance. This helps leaders identify opportunities for improvement and coach accordingly. Analytics also make it easier to track each individual’s progress over time, allowing trainers to make informed decisions around each individual user’s growth and development.
Supplemental and ongoing education
For law enforcement officers, training is not a one-and-done event. Agencies require ongoing learning in order for officers to keep their skills sharp and to understand evolving cultural landscapes. The most comprehensive VR police training software should provide access to an extensive library of supplemental lessons officers can complete during downtime. These could be pre-recorded, conducted live or a combination of both – what’s important is that your agency has the option to keep learning and improving.
Axon: The industry leader in VR police training software
When you’re ready to make the upgrade to virtual reality, Axon can help. Over 1,500 law enforcement agencies already use Axon VR training, and the results speak for themselves: Faster skill development, greater weapon proficiency, better community outcomes and increased officer confidence are just a few of the improvements our partners have noted. As the Halton Police Service put it, “It’s a phenomenal tool. It allows us as officers to be more empathetic, and ultimately respond more effectively.” Ready to learn more? Get in touch.