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New training simulator immerses Utah County officers in high-stress scenarios

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Posted at 10:00 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 00:00:28-04

PROVO, Utah - Utah County police officers are getting immersive training in high-stress scenarios.

On Monday, they showed off the VirTra 300, a new training simulator that uses five different screens, and dozens of different interactive responses. Provo Police Chief John King said it’s part of a long term goal of providing more training in handling mental health and use-of-force situations.

“The officer is able to be wholly encompassed with different scenarios, and potentially problematic scenarios that they may have to respond within seconds,” said Provo police Lt. Brandon Post. “It kind of takes scenario and firearms training and blends it, which is kind of what the real world is.”

The system was paid for by the Utah State legislature. King said they’d spotted it at a trade show, but knew they wouldn’t be able to pay the $300,000 price tag. Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, said it was an investment in Utah’s public safety.

“We wanted to make sure that we’re providing the very best resources available to those heroes that are on the front line,” Stratton said. “When we look at those heroes, they protect the rights that we value.”

Officers are faced with scenarios ranging from a simple traffic stop, to mass shootings. A trainer evaluates the officer’s responses to the subject and programs responses that either escalate, or de-escalate the situation.

King said in the month they’ve used the simulator, they’ve already noticed procedural changes they can make to help their officers positively respond to use of force situations.