Virtual Reality Brings Wearable Taser Training to Phoenix PD

Virtual reality simulators will be another element that the police can use to exercise their muscle memory and put themselves in the shoes of suspects and victims.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department looks to new advancements from Axon, a Scottsdale-based company, to better prepare agents for the real-world circumstances that occur daily on the job.

RELATED: Phoenix Police First in Nation to Use Axon VR Training

Virtual reality simulators will be another item that police can use to not only exercise their muscle memory, but also to put themselves in the shoes of suspects and victims on the other end of emergency calls.

The hope is that the department will be able to better protect and serve the greater Phoenix community with 65 different kits, to defuse situations that arise in the future.

Axon has developed a creative way for police to play scenarios from all angles through virtual reality training.

Information provided by Axon representatives shows that the VR training platform is made up of three main components, including:

“Axon Academy hosts a library of additional e-learning content and training materials designed to reinforce skills learned in community engagement and simulator training scenarios. For trainers, after-action reports stored on Academy provide performance and progression metrics, insight into an officer’s commitment decisions, and new training and program development opportunities.

Community engagement training focuses on developing skills, empathy and communication to engage with individuals in scenarios involving mental health, trauma, peer intervention, etc. Through these experiences, trainees learn to understand officer and civilian perspectives and see how different modes of communication can lead to de-escalation, which can influence calls for service.

Firing Range – Basic: In this scenario, trainees learn the safe and effective deployment of weapons. Trainees learn to use TASER 7 energy weapons and replica training firearms in virtual reality in an indoor shooting environment, then practice their skills on stationary targets at varying ranges to improve accuracy, speed, tactical knowledge and critical thinking.

Firing Range – Intermediate: In this scenario, trainees deploy the TASER 7 energy weapon at varying ranges at moving subjects in an outdoor nighttime environment. This quick exercise helps trainees use safety features, recognize proper probe spread and placement on moving subjects, manage clothing disconnects, and achieve greater efficiency when deploying TASER cartridges. »

Chief Jeri Williams said the technology will allow agents to adjust their reactions and responses to realistic calls.

“Everything from domestic violence to mental health to behavioral health and more, our officers receive world-class training,” she said.

Chris Chin with Axon added that 250 specialists helped organize the dynamic situations, where the trainees can simulate the officer, the suspect or the victim in any case.

“We’re trying to deliberately create representative scenarios so that agents can gain situational awareness, so they can understand how to communicate better, so they can make better decisions, and that’s really to help create a better outcome. for the community,” he explained.

Mayor Kate Gallego spoke about the effectiveness of virtual reality. Axon and said the 5-15 minute training can be learned and retained more easily than even the standard training.

“It’s a really powerful tool and we hope it gives our officers more confidence because they don’t know what’s going to happen when they knock on a door,” Mayor Gallego said.

Axon also provided specific details from a recent study:

“The National League of Cities examined a 90-day period in which more than 85 agents from the South Mountain Precinct of Phoenix PD completed nine of Axon’s community engagement modules in virtual reality. The study found that 81.4% of participants said that at least one of the VR training modules was effective in preparing them to adapt their approach to a call.”

Ultimately, according to city leaders, VR training is cost effective, fast and unlimited, allowing officers to constantly work on de-escalation skills.

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Richard V. Johnson