Analysis, News, Opinion, VR World

What are the implications of police training in VR?

In Scranton, Pennsylvania, the police force may soon be trained with virtual reality.

When you think of the police, chances are you think of the recent controversies surrounding their use of force, at least if you live in the United States. We aren’t going to dive too deep into the political wormhole here, but there are a few things we should get out of the way before continuing:

The reason we are bringing this up on the pages of VR World is due to specific implications of the Scranton Police Department’s VR training… specifically, to help train for when and when not to use force. The proposed system would provide a highly-immersive experience and be configured to provide hundreds of lifelike scenarios to train in.

All things considered, we’re leaning on saying this is a good thing, especially for newer recruits and officers. Statistics don’t lie: unarmed or otherwise harmless people die to the police with alarming frequency, and even one life lost unjustly is too much. If virtual reality can do its part in providing a better, safer police training environment, it translates to a safer space for officers and the wider public alike.

Of course, there are a few potential issues. The biggest one that comes to mind is a budgetary concern: can we really afford to spend $150,000 for each of the VR police training systems that may be created? Will these new training systems lower the statistics of police violence by any meaningful margin?

All we can do is look at Scranton and see how this experiment turns out. We’re optimistic. Are you?