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Interactive tool aims to prepare officers for unpredictable situations

Local News

MURRAY (ABC4 News) – Utah is on a record pace for officer-involved shootings in 2018 with 24 incidents that have left 14 people dead.

Officers now have the opportunity to train on a state of the art immersive, interactive Vir Tra simulator operated by the Utah Attorney General’s Office. 

William Fowlke is a Training Specialist with the AG’s Special Investigations Unit.

“It’s very interactive,” Fowlke told ABC4 News. “In fact, it’s so interactive that officers will experience tunnel vision, they’ll experience audio exclusion because it is such a real experience for them.”

The virtual reality system has five large screens, a powerful sound system and even a vibrating floor that simulates the loud, chaotic and stressful situations officers encounter on the job. They learn communication and de-escalation skills and most importantly, the split-second decision of whether or not to pull the trigger,

“Officers are forced to make a decision between heartbeats,” Fowlke said. ” You know is this a scenario that requires me to use deadly force or not and this is a system that helps prepare them for that by repetition by repeatedly going through those kinds of experiences. Their skills are developed. Their skills are honed and they’re able to perform very well.”

But not a TV reporter with no law enforcement training whatsoever. Fowlke put ABC4’s Rick Aaron in the middle of an active shooter situation in a movie theater.

During the scenario Rick wounded two suspects and saved a hostage – but also accidentally shot an off-duty police officer and got shot 5 times himself.

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