Utah officers train for stressful situations in 300-degree virtual reality simulator

Posted at 8:32 PM, Nov 01, 2016

MURRAY, Utah -- Police officers are constantly undergoing training on how to handle stressful situations they encounter in the field.

On Tuesday, Utah police officers stepped into a virtual reality simulator, giving them an enhanced training experience.

The training was put on by the Utah Attorney Generals’ Office at a facility in Murray. The simulator, VirTra system, is a 300-degrees virtual reality.

It allows an officer to see, hear and feel the experience that is put before them.

The VirTra is about a quarter-of-a-million-dollar system that trains officers on how to de-escalate a dangerous situation to the best of their ability.

"What we are really doing here is overlaying training with stress inoculation,” said Ken Wallentine, Attorney General Special Agent VirTra Operating Director. “They (the officers) can make high stress mistakes and learn from them as opposed to high stress mistakes in the public where perhaps someone else pays the price."

The system’s super computer is designed to respond based on the the officer's actions. There are hundreds of video scenario responses created and built to react to their actions.

"The actors respond to the officer’s tone of voice, whether the officer chooses his first response to take a weapon out to fire, so they are inside technically sophisticated video streaming around them," Wallentine said.

VirTra's goal is creating critical decisions for officers, solving crisis communications with high-stress levels that physically raise your heart rate so an officer comes out armed with new tools to bring into the field.

The program in Utah has been so successful they are sharing it with other states, including an Arizona agency next month.