ROCHESTER, Minn. - The Rochester Police Department is using high-tech tools to give officers tailor-made training on how to best respond to calls.
That Apex Officer Augmented Reality Simulator engages officers with an immersive, multisensory training experience, allowing them to think through situations they might encounter in the field.
Officers are fitted with a VR headset, headphones, motion backpack, and belt with a prop gun and taser. They're then immersed in a simulated environment, which places officers in unique scenarios which could range from a normal traffic stop, to a standoff with an armed suspect.
The experience is guided by an instructor, who dictates what happens in the scenario based on how the officer being trained responds. The instructor even has the ability to control and voice characters in the simulation.
After the exercise, officers review their performance with the instructor and receive feedback with statistics generated by the simulator.
Sergeant Paul Gronholz tells KIMT the simulator allows officer to learn valuable lessons without real-world consequences.
"In order to introduce some of the dynamic things that they'll encounter as officers, this is a much more controlled environment where they can feel free to make mistakes," Officer Gronholz said. "They'll fail forward, they'll learn what not to do."
Officer Andrew Thoma, says in addition to the high-quality training the simulator provides, it is also able to cut costs and resources associated with in-person training.
"One of the biggest things with reality-based training is it takes a lot of manpower and a lot of time to put together," Officer Thoma said. "A system like this takes little or no manpower, and we can do a lot of reality-based training."
RPD says in the future, they would like the high-tech training equipment to be a regional asset officers across Southeast Minnesota could use to train.