Dickinson Police Department just finished unwrapping its new $226,000 toy, and department said it’s going benefit the officers and the community.
“During our training process we can role play with another officer, but the realism just isn’t there, ” said Lt. Mike Hanel, Dickinson Police Department,
At the Dickinson Police Department with the VirTra simulator officers have more than 140 different real life and fictional scenarios to choose from ,including de-escalation.
“The hot button topic nationwide right now is de-escalation-. . . we can teach our officers how to use words and be able show them in scenarios how saying the right things may deescalate a situation, ” said Hanel.
With the 180 degree simulator the police department can also tailor situations to the community.
“If it is a bank robbery we can go to the bank down the street and take a panoramic of the exterior and turn it into a hostage situation (with the simulator), ” said Hanel
Senior Patrol Officer, Casey Brosten, said it’s a lot cheaper and efficient than a training exercise in the field.
“It’s a month of planning, safety gear, safety debrief. . . this not so much”.
Officers also like the idea that they can use the simulator to improve their marksmanship.
“It almost like we were going to go down to the shooting range with paper targets . . . we can simulate that up here,” said Hanel.
Officers can use everything from pepper spray to AR-15 rifles “retrofitted with specialized barrels and CO2 magazines ” on the simulator.
Hanel also said the simulator teaches officers how to deal with a situation in which they encounter an aggressive animal.
However, the department hopes it helps officers make quicker and better decisions in the field.
“Because ultimately in the long run this would lessen the potential for a quote – unquote, bad shoot, “said Hanel.
Hanel said the simulator is one of only three in the state, and they will be opening it up for other agencies in the region to train on.