Farmington police use virtual reality training for officers

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FARMINGTON, N.M. – The Farmington Police Department has a new training tool. It’s a virtual reality system that immerses its new and existing officers in different scenarios.

With the headset on-the officer is immersed in virtual reality, expected to respond to whatever scenario is given by the controller.

The controller plays the parts of the dispatcher and the suspect or suspects. The control can also control whether they are aggressive, agitated or calm and if the suspect is armed or not.

“A lot of our scenarios just depend on what we think we need to train either our department as a whole or if we have an individual officer that has a specific need. That allows us to kind of tailor what their training might be as well, which is another benefit of the system,” said Brandon Downs FPD training officer.

The scenarios can range from domestic abuse to mental health. It also allows the officer to replay the scene and debrief on what they did and what they can do better.

Traditionally, this scenario based training takes place in person, but the virtual reality route has proven to be a bit more efficient.

“What used to take us an hour or two with all the role players and having to bring people in and get them equipment, with reality-based training now we can do it in 15 or 20 minutes. It doesn’t mean that we still won’t do kind of the gold standard of reality-based training, but we can do it less often and get more training in,” said FPD Lt. Nate Lacey with

The department has two virtual reality systems for scenarios that may require more than one officer. The department has had this tool for about two months and so they are still learning the ins and outs. But they are excited to have more officers train with the new technology.