Hopkins Co. Sheriff’s Office Using VR Training System

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (WEHT) A western Kentucky sheriff’s office is taking some of its real-world training into the virtual world.

When you think of virtual reality headsets, you might think of something that is used to play a game while wearing them. But now these are used by law enforcement agencies like the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office to practice real-life situations.

“That’s where law enforcement training is headed, and we’re trying to get through that,” Dep said. Jeff Welch of the Hopkins Co. Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office uses the WRAP Reality virtual reality training system, where deputies simulate dozens of situations, including active shooters and traffic stops, in immersive virtual scenarios. Deputy Welch says his department is the first law enforcement agency in Kentucky to use it.

“It can bring them as close as possible to a real-life situation because you have complete 360-degree awareness of the situation that you need to prepare for,” he said.

The WRAP system also allows deputies or officers to check the surroundings behind them. Training director Robert Bemis of Wrap says most simulations focus on training an officer or deputy’s communication, de-escalation or conflict resolution skills.

The vast majority of calls that a law enforcement agency deals with every day have absolutely nothing to do with force. It has to do with the need to be effective in communication, judgment and decision-making,” he explained.

“What I like about this one is that in a lot of the scenarios here, there’s no use of force. It’s all communication, getting officers to talk to victims or suspects” , added Dep. Welche.

The system is already in use in 15 other states, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada.

(This story was originally published on July 7, 2022)

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