WELLSTON, MO. - Local officers are using new technology to sharpen their skills out on the street.
“It’s designed to give officers the most state of the art training in the country,” said Sgt. John Wall with the St. Louis County Police Department.
Wall is the basic training supervisor at the agency’s academy in Wellston.
That’s where the department just implanted a state-of-the-art virtual reality system called VirTra V-300.
“It gives you a reality feel to everything that’s going on,” Wall said.
The system features five large projection screens with live actors in 120 real life scenarios.
The scenarios range from peeping Toms and traffic stops to school shootings and mass casualty events.
Wall said, “You have contact with people from the front, to the sides and even behind you.”
But the catch?
The operator can change the dynamics of each situation based on how the officer or new recruit is handling it.
“They can take a very hostile situation and talk it all the way down to where the suspect gives up,” Wall said.
That way, when the officer or recruit is out on the street, they’ve already got an idea of how they might handle the unexpected.
Wall said, “Officers after a while might not think this is going to happen because it’s their daily job, this is a reminder to be prepared for all situations.”
Officers can even be surprised with an electronic impulse to induce real physiological stress and get their heart rate pumping.
The system was made possible through a $350,000 donation to the St. Louis Police Foundation through the Berges Family Foundation.