New virtual training technology offers cutting edge de-escalation training to local law agencies

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DEL NORTE COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM) -The Del Norte County Sheriff’s office now has advanced technology to help train their deputies.

The virtual training may look empty to a bystander, but not to this deputy.

Once sensors are placed on each wrist, and the deputy is suited-up with a headpiece, virtual reality goggles and simulated duty gear, they are instructed to enter a “virtual calibration room” which basically looks like a training area.

According to Del Norte County Sheriff Erik Apperson, the instructor can assume the role of anyone, and create limitless number of challenges and scenarios.

“It might be an incident where we put somebody in an environment like they are responding to a call,” he said. “It shouldn’t be really compared to some of this older form of training methodology or shoot or don’t shoot.”

The technology allows the officer to process, in “real time, critical thinking skills.

“If the deputy or the officer is performing well, we can show a positive outcome,” said Apperson.   

This advanced training technology opportunity is a collaboration with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and will assist DNCSO with development of their strategic communications and de-escalation techniques.

“Were on the Northwest tip of the state, so often, we don’t get as many training opportunities.

According to the Under-sheriff Randy Waltz, the equipment will not be paid from their annual budget.

“This equipment is very expensive technology; it has been provided as not cost to our agency,” he said.   

This VR technology offers a way for law officials to practice and improve their skills without the constraints of a schedule and/or environmental conditions.

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“[You can] see everything from the sky, to grass on the ground or a hospital setting, there are people yelling,” he said.  “There are ambient noises around you.”

Under Sheriff Randy Waltz says it is unlike any training he has ever done.   

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“We are having some fun with it and were definitely seeing how it can be beneficial.”

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Beneficial to neighboring law entities, too, DNCSO plans to share the technology with surrounding agencies.