Oshkosh PD now uses virtual reality for training

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – The Oshkosh Police Department has added a new piece of equipment to train its officers.

Police officers are faced with different types of calls, on the job, every day. And now, thanks to Apex Officer, a virtual reality training system, purchased through donations, the Oshkosh Police Department has the ability to train its officers in almost unlimited scenarios.

“What this allows us to do is provide high frequency, short duration training. So, officers retain it better and they’re more qualified in the field. And the system is so versatile it allows us to do pretty much anything we want, ”says Sgt. Todd Wrage.

Once geared up with the backpack and virtual reality headset on, an instructor introduces the scenario to the officer. They are then immediately immersed into the situation. The instructor can manipulate the subject or suspect to respond to the officer’s commands. Scenarios can be changed quickly and adapted to whoever is wearing the headset.

Sgt. Wrage adds, “I can pull an officer off the road, make them safe, get rid of everything live, gear them up and have them go through two to three scenarios in 20-30 minutes, no problem.”

Oshkosh PD plans to use the system regularly. “It becomes part of our natural training programs, but we also use it for remedial training. If we have an officer that we want to work on something with, we have officers in field training that we want to help with skill development – this is another one of those areas where we can use the simulator to help develop those skills, ”adds Sgt. Wrage.

While the training will not allow officers to go hands-on with somebody, it’s really more about their decision making in these volatile situations. Sgt. Wrage says, “Professional communications, de-escalation and handling the situations, treating people with respect, all of that is all part of this It’s not about shooting, it’s not about deploying tasers, those are certainly parts of it or can be on how we script the scenarios ”

And because it’s all virtual reality and not role playing, the training is safer for everyone involved.

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