Arming Police with a New Weapon: Virtual Reality

A few weeks ago I wrote about how VR and AR technology is being used to help doctors and surgeons prep for procedures. We’re seeing more and more industries adopt the technology for virtual training purposes. Even corporate giants like Walmart are getting their hands on the technology. Now Axon, the tech company known for pushing the adoption of police body cameras, is the latest firm to adopt VR for the police force. Their main goal is to teach police officers empathy. 

According to a study from the Washing Post, 19% of Americans that were fatally shot by police this year had a mental illness. 992 Americans have been shot and killed by police in 2018. Axon’s “empathy development training” is meant to condition police officers to ask the right questions (in the right tone) to better assess high-pressure situations before pulling their weapons.

A few months ago, Axon unveiled a virtual program in Chicago — using Oculus Go VR headsets — to train first responders in scenarios involving citizens with autism and schizophrenia. The company’s latest rollout is focused on preparing officers to better assist in suicide prevention. Here’s a video preview of what it looks like.

Axon’s new training program seeks to put its trainees on both sides of the coin: the officer, and the person in need. Experts believe the future of virtual reality in law enforcement holds major promise by providing immersive views of body-cam evidence, assisting in recruitment, or one day being utilized as therapy for officers experiencing PTSD.

Why it’s hot: An interesting use of VR/AR technology that could have significant results in law enforcement training and could potentially help end unnecessary police shootings.

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