BCSO Stepping-up Training with Virtual Reality

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office has a new virtual-reality training system.

“This is about as real as it gets, unless you’re actually involved in one of those things,” said Sheriff PJ Tanner.

The $80,000 Meggett virtual reality “shoot or dont shoot” simulator can create more than 700 real-life scenarios that officers will have to go through, each simulation lasts about three minutes and can be watched back immediately.

“It’s a video system that requires the officers to react, fire their weapons, it requires the officers to give commands, so there is a lot of training involved with this but it also requires a lot from the officer because at the same time we’re grading them.”

The scenarios the officer goes through can be changed on the fly and  can range from a bar fight, traffic stop, or domestic violence situation all the way to a terrorist threat. The system can even be designed to use local buildings, like county schools or the courthouse. Officers use a variety of weapons they would normally have, which are the same size and weight of their normal weapons, giving the simulation an even more real-life feel.

“The more we can train our officers on these different scenarios, the more comfortable they feel, the more confidence they have and the fact that they went through this and either made a mistake or didn’t is probably the best part of the training.”

And thanks to the system, which is indoors, the department no longer has to worry about weather or times of day to train, and because of this, Tanner says it will also cut down on overtime.

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