BURLINGTON – Police Chief Michael Kent would like to inform the public that the Burlington Police Department has leased a state-of-the-art training simulator, allowing officers to practice real-world scenarios as part of their longstanding and sustained emphasis on de-escalation.
The department is leasing the Virtra V-180 simulator for one year to replace training courses that have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The simulator offers training modules with multiple scenarios and outcomes based on how participants interact and respond to them. Training modules cover a range of complex situations, including dealing with mental-health crises, autism awareness, tourniquet application, dealing with aggressive dogs and responding to active shooter incidents. Training is held in a 180-degree virtual environment, adding realism and reinforcing the lessons learned.
“Most training simulators don’t go beyond shoot/don’t shoot scenarios,” Chief Kent said. “This system covers all of the most important issues in policing right now around de-escalation and will give us an advanced tool that can closely mimic the diverse sets of scenarios that officers can encounter and help them identify strategies to bring about a safe resolution to those situations.”
Members of the department began training with the simulator in early February, and will regularly take part in hands-on training modules.
More than 400 law enforcement agencies use Virtra simulators, including some of the largest in the country: Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco and the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy (Las Vegas).
Virtra created a training curriculum in consultation with the Force Science Institute, which promotes empirical research in behavioral science and human dynamics, and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
This new level of training will support the Burlington Police Department’s efforts to build on its existing accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and work to meet the rigorous guidelines set out by recently-passed police reform legislation.
The department will be seeking grants to extend simulator training to firefighters, EMTs and mental health professionals, who often respond to crises alongside police officers.
“This training extends beyond use-of-force scenarios, so we have the potential to train any town employee or member of a partner agency,” Chief Kent said. “This training is vital for the safety of first responders, the people they work with, and the public they serve.”
The police station has limited usable space, so the department needed to be creative to make room for 30 feet of display screens and equipment. The solution: Obtaining a 40-yard metal trash container and emptying the mezzanine area that had been used for storage.