Ontario Police Training With Virtual Simulations

  • 11/1/2018 7:16:59 PM
  • Jenna Ramolt
  • Local News

ONTARIO, OH - The Ontario Police Department is taking advantage of modern technology to train their officers using virtual simulations.

The simulator is powered by Ti Training and provides dozens of different scenarios, ranging from traffic stops to school shootings and attempted suicides. Each simulation is highly customizable, with different goals, dangers, and outcomes. An experienced officer runs the simulation from inside a booth, where he can evaluate the officers' actions and decide the outcome of a scene. In one scene an officer found a man ready to jump off of a bridge and was able to talk him into stepping away from the edge. In another, the officers had to react quickly to shoot an armed man before he shot them. Anyone training in the simulator has no idea what they are about to walk into or how it will end, which means they need to be able to adapt quickly to the situation.

The goal, said Ontario Chief of Police Tom Hill, was to provide officers with years' worth of experience through just eight simulation training sessions each month- and it appears to be working.

"If you make a mistake here it's okay. You can't make those mistakes out on the road and that's why we do this," said Chief Hill. "What this technology does for us is it allows us to put an officer in a situation and make mistakes, and it doesn't cost the person that's involved in the call anything, and it doesn't cost the officers anything."

Officers carry their duty weapons into the simulator with CO2 cartridges replacing ammunition, providing an extra element of accuracy. There are also tasers and pepper spray cartridges that can be calibrated to the screen. Officers run through a scenario from the time they get the call until the situation has de-escalated. At that point another officer may sometimes step in to roleplay the aftermath of a scene- if someone is injured, they can take the steps of providing medical aid. Officers can also run through what they would do to secure the scene of a crime or search and arrest an individual.

Any mistakes they make in the simulator can be addressed and become a teaching moment, which means if they ever encounter that scenario in real life, they will be better prepared.

"We are going to take this type of technology and we are going to use this, and if there's anything else out there to make our officers the most competent, the most professional, the most efficient, the safest... we want to put our officers in the best chance to succeed," said Hill.

The simulator was paid for through the department's general fund after approval by the mayor and the city council, but it already seems to be saving money. Using the CO2 cartridges in the simulator is much less expensive than using ammunition at a shooting range- Chief Hill estimates it has already saved the department around $70,000.

It isn't only the Ontario Police Department that benefits from the simulator. Chief Hill says other agencies are encouraged to take advantage of the experience it provides, and the police academy is even putting cadets through simulation training this December.

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