Colorado State Patrol Academy Now Includes Virtual Reality Training

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(GOLDEN, COLO.) – Virtual Reality goggles and body-worn sensors are helping cadets going through the Colorado State Patrol Academy take their skills to a new level. Colorado State Patrol launched an immersive virtual reality training tool called “Apex Officer” in May 2022, with two cadet classes now having experienced this advanced technology training.

Through; "Apex Officer," cadets go through real-world scenarios using firearms and equipment modified specifically for virtual reality. Presently, one of the scenarios used by the Colorado State Patrol involves a traffic crash where the cadet has to contact the driver who has fled the scene. Scenarios through the program are unlimited and customizable. While hands-on or real-life training still holds the advantage for skill development, the use of virtual reality can focus on scenarios that include de-escalation, crisis intervention, duty to intervene, active shooter events, and others that require decision-making and critical
thinking to be successful.

“Simulation training has been around for a long time in several high-risk industries like pilot training and healthcare,” stated Major Jeff Sewell, Director of the Colorado State Patrol Training Academy. “The ability for our cadets to learn and repeat skills, make mistakes and correct them in a safe environment that requires less drain on resources is a huge win for our agency and the communities we serve.”

The program allows new modules and situations to be developed and used in the system over time. “We’ve only just started using the program, but we see the potential and intend to expand its use both for our cadets as well as existing troopers,” stated Major Sewell. “We’re finding that the best way to incorporate VR is to prepare our troopers for high-stress situations that frequently occur on the job.”

Law enforcement officers have to be able to make split-second decisions and act upon them under ambiguous and stressful circumstances. The Colorado State Patrol plans to develop additional virtual reality training scenarios to expand and continuously improve decision-making capabilities to support positive outcomes in complex situations.