Virtual reality training could help prepare Arizona police

Police officers have begun training through a virtual reality program developed by VirTra. (Photo by Julia Thatcher/Cronkite News)

Virtual reality training could become a reality for more Arizona police departments.

Virtra, a Tempe based company, builds simulators and create scenarios for purchase for agencies such as police departments or military. These simulations help prepare our first responders for more than 100 situations they could encounter.

Virtra Employee and former Marine, Mauricio Acuna, explained that the environment of the training helps prepare for those high stress situations.

“Were adding the stress with the proper tools in the proper time, decision making, can you make the right tool work at the right time under the right stress, with or without teammates,” said Acuna. “Survive, survive at all costs.”

The scenarios are written by experts who were former military or police themselves, they use their previous experiences to make the simulations as real as possible.

Former Scottsdale police and Virtra employee, Scott DiIullo, said it’s the split second decisions first responders have to make that make the difference. “It could mean a matter of life or death it could mean the matter of going home to your children or not so that’s where it comes,” said DiIullo. “It’s very powerful for us former law enforcement military personnel to still be involved still play a part and build tools and products to help them do their job.”

A government affairs specialist for Arizona police association said they are asking for funds from the state budget to pay for simulators and put them in different locations around Arizona.

It would allow police officers to train using them.

“It’s hard to be a police officer right now. Officers need to be held to a higher standard. We expect that, but we also need to provide them with the tools to hold them to those higher standards,” said DiIullo.

The budget appropriation wouldn’t specify the company to contract with, but Virtra employees say its less about where they get the training from and more about getting the training in the hands of the officers.

“It’s about my brothers and sisters still on the street. I know what they go through, especially now a days,” said DiIullo.

During the simulation if the officer is shot, it triggers a taser that they wear so they can become familiar working through the pain.