Police innovate with VR in use of force training

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By Nick Seebruch
Police innovate with VR in use of force training
CPS Board member Martha Woods aims a C8 rifle during a VR exercise on Wednesday, February 12 at the Cornwall Civic Complex (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario - The Cornwall Police Service (CPS) conducted their annual use of force and firearms training for their officers this week at the Cornwall Civic Complex. For the first time ever, they introduced elements of Virtual Reality (VR) into their training.

The VR components were offered by Chimera Firearms Training. Owned and operated by Canadian veterans, Chimera is a Toronto based company that provides professional level training in firearms through VR techniques.

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Among the exercises that the CPS conducted were range exercises with handguns and semi-automatic rifles that fired virtual bullets. Officers also had a chance to act through live action video scenarios, the results of which would change dynamically based on the officers' decisions. Chimera also brought their VR headset to try. Media were given a chance to experience some of these training techniques, including the VR headset which involved shooting a rifle on a virtual range.

Chimera had 18 live action scenarios for the officers to test themselves on, which included a disgruntled employee at a warehouse with a shotgun, violent gang members, a student at a school with a knife and more. These scenarios allowed officers to issue limited commands to the live action actors in the video, who would respond accordingly. The training gave officers the opportunity to try and quickly assess a situation and use the level of force they deem appropriate, which was also tracked by Chimera's program.

CPS Sgt. Troy St. Germain is in charge of use of force training with the service. He explained that officers are required to complete eight hours of firearms training annually, but when they practice with live fire weapons, each officer usually has a 100 round limit.

“Virtual Reality is much more cost efficient,” Officer St. Germain explained. “We have already shot nearly 5,000 rounds over the past two days.”

Members of the CPS Police Board were also invited to come and experience the VR training for themselves.

“This gives us a good indication of what our officers are using and the complexity of it. It is very informative,” said Michel Payette of the CPS Police Board.

On Thursday, Feb. 13, the CPS will be inviting the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (AMPS), and the OPP to join them in their exercises.

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[...] of retail workplaces, VR is also being used to improve training amongst police forces. The Cornwall Police Services in Ontario, for instance, employed VR technology for the first time this past February to [...]