NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The death of George Floyd brought police use-of-force under a microscope as police departments nationwide reconsider how and when to use force.

One tech company believes the world of virtual reality could train officers to de-escalate a situation before it ever gets physical.

InVeris said its virtual training program is more advanced than previous simulator programs.

“Now we can literally put them in a situation where the officer can have a conversation with the suspect. They can have a dialogue,” said Robert Griffin, a former police officer who now works with InVeris.

Officers are equipped with all the same tools they usually have, including handguns, Tasers and pepper spray, as they enter the virtual world through a headset.

“This is not a game. This is not a video game. This is not here for entertainment purposes,” said Griffin. “We’re here to make our officers safer and make more people go home at the end of the day – civilians and cops alike.”

Officers can experience a variety of scenarios, from a suicidal person to an active shooter situation. Griffin said the key is that the experience feels real.

“Most people, I think as human beings, in general are not prepared for critical incident. It’s very hard to mimic that, to put a human being in a life-or-death situation where it feels real and that’s why VR is so powerful,” said Griffin.

Power they believe can make a difference ahead of a tense situation.

“I’m not here to second guess the officers who had to shoot ‘cause I think sometimes it’s just inescapable,” said Griffin. “Training is key ‘cause when you’re caught up in a critical incident, immediately your body would go into auto pilot, and if you’ve been trained a specific way for 10 or 15 years, when you’re thrown into a stressful situation where you don’t have time to think, you’re just going to react on how you were trained.”

Currently the InVeris training product is not being used by any law enforcement agencies in Tennessee.

 

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