Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office launches virtual simulator training system

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Deputies in Santa Fe are using virtual reality to prepare for a variety of real-life scenarios.

"It can be anything from deadly force situations, shoot/no-shoot situations, situations regarding behavioral and mental health crisis," Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said.

Deputies are not mental health counselors, but oftentimes they are called to resolve those emergencies.

"We’re the first responders, we’re dealing with it when we get on scene," Mendoza said. "The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is helping prepare officers for difficult mental health situations by using a virtual simulator."

The sheriff’s office is hoping the new technology will strengthen deputies’ skills on the streets.

"For me, it puts me in a real-life situation, without having to be in a real-life situation," said Anthony Segura, an SFCSO agent. "It’s beneficial. I think as many times as myself or another deputy goes through this, it’s just going to make them a better law enforcement officer."

The simulations are designed to test officers’ instincts.

"It makes you revert back a lot to what you know and if you do make a mistake, you have your buddies and deputies here to help coach you and to help make you better," Segura said.

It is the first week that deputies are working with the virtual reality simulator. The sheriff’s office said they hope to make it a bigger part of training new recruits.