Virtual reality training helping police practice de-escalation practices

The West Des Moines police department uses a virtual reality simulator to help train de-escalation tactics with the goal of not using force.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – The West Des Moines police department continues the conversation of officers committed to the community.

The department uses a virtual reality simulator to help train de-escalation tactics with the goal of not using force.

“In the past we have had to use force with calls and we never want it. We always want to de-escalate to where no force is needed every time we make a call to service, ”said Jody Hayes, WDMPD deputy chief.

Hayes said the department’s 89 officers train monthly.

Here’s how it works: Officers will hear a scene from the office. They will interact with the simulation while Hayes controls what the simulation does.

“I can send an order for the suspect to say something,” Hayes explained.

There are 240 scenarios, such as an active shooter or a complicated murder-suicide.

“Scenario-based training is the best training we can offer our police officers,” Hayes said. “So put these scenarios to work and the experience prepares them for real life.”

Hayes said there are only two simulators like this in the state. One in West Des Moines and another in Dubuque County. The department measures their success with training according to what officers tell them to continue in the field.

The simulator is hired by a company and pays approximately $ 50,000 a year. This cost is paid from the annual training budget.

A portion of these lease expenses is recovered each year by not using actual firearm ammunition on the firing range.

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