NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Virtual reality simulators fine tune the skills of law enforcement around the state.
Two simulators, one for driving and another for resistance training, are in use by Nacogdoches city and county peace officers this week.
The simulation isn't a new idea, but one that has evolved over time.
"Put it down. Put the knife down," Darren Jackson, a simulation supervisor said to a resisting woman in one of the scenarios. "Put the knife down."
What would you do? Trainers present the question to peace officers through hundreds of scenarios matched to their duties.
"I have over 700 videos, so I change it per student," Jackson said.
Situations may call for an immediate use of a forceful talk or a defense tool.
"Drop the knife," Jackson said.
Instruction has changed over the years with emphasis placed on a less combative approach.
"Most people will mirror what you do," said Sgt. Robert Mobley, a Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office training coordinator. "If you're hostile and angry in appearance, then they're going to continue to be that way. If you take a less authoritative approach, a lot of time you can get better results."
An influencing factor could be the high public use of cell phone recordings. The Association of Counties Risk Management Pool welcomes the public documentation.
"We encourage the documentation of the use of force because 97, 98 percent of the time the officers are doing a perfect job," Jackson said. "Those are the ones that never make the show. It's always the times when it goes bad."
Later, a simulated siren blared when a driving simulator tested a law enforcement officer on a high-speed pursuit with potential hazards along the way.
The pursuit's ending is determined by the driver's actions, a simulated gunshot.
A playback led to a critique.
You stopped the threat, and you used your vehicle to stop the threat, which is a good call," said Don Courtney, a driving simulator consultant.
If mistakes, which are easy to make, occur, the place to make them is in a simulator. You learn from them quickly.
It's pretend for some, but it can become the real thing for others.
Since the Texas Association of Counties program began in 2000, the simulator itself had logged more than 60,000 miles traveling across the state. Thousands of emergency drivers have trained on the simulator.