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High-tech training to diffuse high-risk police confrontations

SYKESVILLE, Md. – A Maryland state trooper received a call for help.

“It involves a drunkard,” they instructed over the radio. “Looks like he’s outside the bar.”

The recruit is only equipped with a backpack, a headset and a replica weapon.

“Obviously they won’t let me back in the bar,” the man said on the virtual screen, “Look, I have to pay my card inside and they won’t let me back in.”

“We’ll talk to the bar and see what we can do about that, but in the meantime, let’s get you home, okay?” Respond to recruiters.

No, this is not a shooting simulator.

It’s about making the right decisions.

Maryland State Police is said to be the first agency in the region to use the Apex Virtual Police Simulator, where an instructor in one room can interact with a soldier armed with high-tech equipment in the room. to create virtually limitless scenarios with the goal of preventing violent confrontations before they happen.

“Sometimes in these situations, no force is used. You’re using good verbal de-escalation and end-to-end scenarios, and that’s what we want,” said Maryland State Police Captain Brian Smith. “And sometimes, the instructor can have someone pull a knife, someone pull a gun. He controls whether they will listen and drop that knife or listen and drop that gun or maybe where the troops might need to use force in that situation. “

At a time when some are calling for the police to kill, the agency used $110,000 in state money to buy the system, which can be transported from barracks to barracks across the country. state.

Smith added: “A huge advantage for the Maryland State Police is that we are stretched from Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake to Ocean City, the problem with screen-based technology is that people will have to drive to it. a central place to use it. .

No, this is not about shooting subjects when law enforcement has no choice.

“You said you would give me a ride,” the virtual drunk told the recruiter.

“No knife in hand, Mr. Ripley,” protested the soldier. “I need you to drop the knife.”

It’s about diffusing the situation before they have to pull the trigger.

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