Virtual Reality Training for Superior Policer Officers

SUPERIOR, Wis.– The Superior Police Department unveiled its new state-of-the art virtual training simulator designed to help officers better deescalate the most dangerous calls. This type of training technology is something no other police agency in the Northland owns.

The SPD is now going to be training in officers in real-world situations with some virtual help. Equipment made its way to Superior to train officers in virtual reality on Thursday.

“We’re able to create virtual scenarios that we wouldn’t be able to create realistically in real life,” said Superior Patrol Captain Paul Winterscheidt.

The $80,000 equipment will be used to train officers of all experiences in a variety of environments to work on deescalation and communication skills, use of force, and other situations they might come across in the field. That includes a number of different ways characters can react to an officer.

“It’s a fantastic, immersive system. You feel like you’re in the environment,” said Winterscheidt.

Because the training is virtual, it can make training easier by creating different situations that would be challenging to create in real life and training can now take place all year long.

“We have a very specific direction that the instructor is taking the scenario to impart the training topic on the officer,” said Winterscheidt. “But the officer taking the scenario who’s participating in it doesn’t really know what’s going on and that provides better contextual learning.”

The equipment came from SURVIVR, a VR company based in Texas that works with a range of former law enforcement officers. In simulations, items can be used like flashlights, pepper spray, tasers, and firearms.

“Historically, simulators have been screen based or projection based and they were pre-recorded videos,” said Lauren Bolton, VP of Marketing for SURVIVR.

The company allows police officers to train in any environment along with immersing themselves with the situation around them.

“Then they actually start interacting and doing the training itself and seeing how quickly a suspect can go from compliant to defensive to absolutely combative within a split second or it can go in the complete opposite direction,” said Bolton.

During a time when police encounters with civilians have sparked demands for change across the country. Those with the SPD say the VR training is a great tool to help officers respond in reactionary moments.

“We can create basically any scenario. We can customize our avatars, our avatars can be resistive to officers, they can be verbally defiant to officers,” said Winterscheidt. “It really requires officers to think through those communication skills to resolve a situation in the best way possible.”

The Superior Police Department plans to train in officers with the new technology in the next couple weeks.

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