As part of the office’s commitment to advancing technology for peace officers, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has launched a series of immersive virtual reality trainings for law enforcement statewide.

“These VR goggles are the next best thing to real-world experience because officers are immersed in split-second decision-making scenarios,” Yost said, “If someone makes a mistake while using virtual reality, it doesn’t have consequences in the real world.”

Combined with existing training techniques, VR training allows officers to practice responding to and defusing potentially volatile scenarios by using soft skills and crisis-management techniques. It gives peace officers the feel of real-life trauma, distractions, reactions and more.

Currently there are six scenarios available – each lasting eight to 12 minutes – that alone serve as training and may also be integrated into dozens of longer courses.

The scenarios, which have been loaded onto 160 headsets, are available to Ohio’s 900 law enforcement agencies through the OPOTA Close to Home program, a partnership between the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and six regional training providers located throughout the state. This strategy allows for low-cost, frequent, and standardized statewide training that can be completed during a peace officer’s shift.

“We want officers to have a shared training foundation across jurisdictions, and this is one way to ensure that,” Yost said. “More consistent training means safer streets for everyone.”

The scenarios were shot on 360-degree cameras and produced in a collaboration with Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, the Athens Police Department, the Ohio University Police Department and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office.

Prior to launch, the goggles were tested on a group of law enforcement leaders through the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

“We were excited to have members from the 11th cohort of the Public Safety Leadership Academy take part in the virtual reality simulation training,” said OSU Program Manager Todd Thomas. “Getting the opportunity to have 32 senior law enforcement officers from across Ohio experience the future of technology-enhanced training firsthand will help further engagement as this program continues to grow.”

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