Los Alamos Police Department trains officers using new virtual reality technology

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The Los Alamos Police Department implemented virtual reality technology to train officers in a whole new way.

"So that when we go deal with it in the public, our officers are prepared. They’ve already been there,” said LAPD Sgt. Chris Ross.

Police training in Los Alamos is taking a step into the future.

"Bring ’em in here, put them in a stressful situation, put them in some environments that they’re not used to,” Ross said.

The new training system cost the department around $80,000.

"So we can put our guys into a safe scenario and get them where they can start using their most powerful tool that they have—their brain and their thinking capability—we’re going to get better outcomes for everyone,” Sgt. Ross said.

Computer training simulations are not new, but virtual reality adds a 3-D element. Virtual suspects can even speak through an operator in another room. The different interactions, situations, and outcomes are endless, and cover things like use of force and de-escalation.

LAPD is showing the new tech to other departments across the state and has already demoed it for the Albuquerque Police Department.

While training for use of force is important, the audio feedback with real people is what Sgt. Ross said makes the training so dynamic.

"Ninety-nine percent of our interactions with the community, we don’t use our hands, we just use our mouth. And your mouth can get you into trouble, or it can get you out of trouble. What you say has a lot of power behind it,” he said.