SOUTHPORT, Fla. (WMBB)— Virtual reality isn’t just for video games anymore, it’s making its way into the classroom.
The Gulf Coast State College Law Enforcement Academy has now implemented a $90,000 virtual reality program to prepare officers for their careers.
It’s called the Apex Officer Training System.
“It’s interactive and the students are equipped with the same tools that they would have out on the road or in the corrections setting because we use it for both the law enforcement and corrections communication skills,” Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Programs Associate Director Daryl White said.
White said the goal is to strengthen the officer’s communication skills with the public.
“The program itself gives you the ability to do harm reduction conversations with people that are dealing with mental health issues or crisis situations or anything like that and we can also it also has the ability to engage in use of force if they have to,” White said.
The Apex system allows them to choose countless different scenarios and environments, providing the students with an immersive experience.
“So the student puts it on, there’s a backpack that has a battery and stuff, and it feeds into the virtual kind of like an Oculus or something like that and they have interactive tasers and firearms,” White said.
He hopes the VR system gives officers more confidence to handle difficult situations.
“What I’m hoping for is that we improve the student’s ability to get out into the public and become an officer, whether it’s corrections or law enforcement, that they have that confidence to be able to talk to people and to de-escalate situations,” White said.
Gulf Coast State College is the first Florida law enforcement academy to bring the VR program into its curriculum.