Alton PD unveils VR training simulator

 Armed with a new tool they say will better prepare them for any scenarios, the Alton Police Department is taking their training to the next level.

The department unveiled on Wednesday the Milo Range virtual training simulator, which uses VR technology to place officers in numerous situations that wouldn’t normally be possible.

Lt. Mike Martinez with Alton PD addresses a suicidal individual as part of the many scenarios in the department’s virtual reality training program Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Progress Times photo by Jose De Leon III.

“This virtual reality style of training allows us to train in that fashion and make sure our officers are prepared in any circumstance,” Alton Police Chief Jonathon B. Flores said. “Training is of the utmost importance for any department and this is another tool we can utilize to make sure our officers are trained and prepared for those high risk situations.”

The Milo Range simulator works by having an officer placed in front of a giant screen who interacts with whatever scenario is being projected by a certified technician. The scenarios range from traffic stops, domestic disturbance calls and active shooter situations.

“There’s lots of adrenaline going through and it allows you to understand the importance of decisions that officers have to make in a split second while working to serve and protect the community,” Flores said. 

Depending on the scenarios, the officer will either de-escalate the situation or use lethal force against a suspect. The technician will then debrief the officer on how they handled the situation and what they could’ve done differently.

“You’re going to have better trained officers down the road learning muscle memory to get them exposed to these scenarios so if they encounter it in the field, they will have the muscle memory to respond for a better outcome,” Chief Flores said. “The scenarios are very realistic and based on what officers would experience in high stress situations and the hope is if they encounter it through the VR training beforehand, they will have been exposed to how to respond appropriately.”

The San Juan Police Department and South Texas College Police Academy use a similar program, Flores said. After seeing it in action at San Juan, Flores decided to invest in the $14,000 training to be used by every officer in the department.

“Officers are happy at the idea of using this, they’re really big on training and welcome any opportunities available to them,” Flores said. “We’re excited for them to use it to serve the community in the best way possible.” 

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