Sacramento Using Virtual Reality Training to Improve Policing, Confront Bias

Sacramento Using Virtual Reality Training to Improve Policing, Confront Bias

Written on 05/01/2021
Wesley Marsh

The new training will focus on critical decision-making, and de-escalation techniques in addition to peer intervention training as police departments face increased pressure to reform.

What We Know:

  • The virtual reality simulations can be programmed within a day and focus on real-world situations, according to Sacramento PD Lt. Zach Bates. Officers wear a headset and sensors that track their movements and how they utilize their weapons. The simulation is designed to place officers in high-stress situations.
  • The hope is that the new training regimen will save more lives. The training isn’t solely focused on “shoot, don’t shoot” practices, but the decision-making before, during, and after a call, said Lt. Bales to CNN. Bales spoke on how officers need to mentally prepare for a call and review all the options available to them to achieve a better outcome.
  • Speaking to CNN, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hanh said, “When people say ‘defund the police’ because we have racism in our past, first of all, we have to acknowledge that’s absolutely true.” He went on to say the way to improve policing was by talking about it “with equipment and training.” One of the directives under Hanh is to be less reactive and more proactive in situations.
  • A little more than two years ago, Stephon Clark was shot in his grandmother’s backyard by Sacramento PD officers. The officers mistook Clark’s cellphone for a gun, and no charges were ever filed against them. The officers were even cleared to return to active duty. Since then, the Sacramento PD has worked hard to improve its training and practices.
  • Specifically, the department has focused on de-escalation strategies and crisis intervention teams to assist officers in responding to mental health situations. “We need to ensure that our officers are ready and prepared, not only for a very diverse city that has very different neighborhoods but also for the wide variety of calls that they’re going to respond to,” said Chief Hanh.

In the wake of the trial of Derek Chauvin and other police shootings, police departments will continue to face pressure to improve their standards in order to save more lives.