Sparks Police train on virtual simulator

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 8:37 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - The Sparks Police Department is using a virtual reality tool called the Virtra Simulator to help officers protect life and improve safety.

KOLO 8 News Now’s Evening Anchor Noah Bond was given a fake hand gun and fake pepper spray and told to do his best in the simulator.

“When its presented on the screen, just react how you feel is appropriate. Are you ready?” an officer asked.

“I’m ready to do it,” Bond said with no idea of what was about to happen.

The image of a man with a knife in his hand appears on a large screen. Less than a second later he starts sprinting at Bond. It takes him four seconds to draw his gun and shoot the virtual man in the chest.

An officer debriefed the encounter, “So he was at 30 feet when he was walking around. You perceive a knife that he had. You made a conclusion on what to do or what to use and in that time it took you to perceive that to make a decision he got within six feet.”

“What does a trained officer typically do?” Bond.

“You’re right there in the realm where we want to see our officers. So obviously you’re ahead of the curve (of citizens) in that sense,” replied the officer.

The Virtra Simulator is designed to give officers muscle memory in response to situations they can encounter to more quickly use lethal force with confidence to preserve life, but the main goal is to preserve peace.

“Our job always is de-escalation. That’s our first goal. Our officers are diligently training and training at a high level on many different types of situations that they may encounter on the street. The ultimate goal is to have a safe resolution at the end of each call,” said Sparks Police Department Public Information Officer, Damon O’Connell.

Bond was put through a second scenario with the theme of disrespect.

The simulator places the officer in training in the driver’s seat of a patrol car. Four teenage girl who walk near the car and one kicks the vehicle and uses a derogatory term to describe all police officers.

The simulator shows the officer getting out of the car and talking with the four young women.

The outcomes can vary depending on the police officer’s actions.

In Bond’s back and forth with the simulator three of the girls walk away and the lone girl holds a knife to her wrist and threatens to harm herself.

Bond is left with the task of talking her down and to get her help.

The Virtra Simulator arrived to the Sparks Police Department about six months ago.

It cost $84,091.

A grand paid for the majority of the cost and the City of Sparks paid the remaining $15,091.07 cost.

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