Montpelier Police to use VR training tech

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Montpelier Police officers will soon be assisted with some new high-tech tools.

The department has started using new body cameras and a hands-on, virtual reality approach to training. “It’s a very good functional tool. It does more than a typical body-worn camera would,” Montpelier Police Chief Brian Peete

The body-worn cameras are provided by the California-based company Visual Labs. They are smartphones that can capture officer interactions with the click of a button. “It’s very easy to operate, it’s very user friendly and I think it’s something that is very beneficial. With the body-worn camera systems, the information uploads to the cloud as soon as the camera button goes off,” Peete said.

He says the cameras also serve as backup radio software for officers to use and that officers can access specific apps and emails that are used on the job.

In addition to the cameras, the department is trying out virtual reality headsets. “You put on the goggles, you have the tools that you normally do, and then you’re immersed in a virtual world. Whether it’s a domestic violence situation, its encountering someone who is suffering from a mental illness crisis, or a mental crisis at that time, and officers can create the scenarios,” Peete explained.

Both systems were purchased with grant funding and are being implemented at no cost to taxpayers. Chief Peete says as laws and policies around policing change in Vermont, these tools will help the department analyze its role in the community. “It helps us to assess and to find out if we’re doing something right or if we’re doing something wrong or if there are any gaps in our policies that we need to fill,” he said.

While the technology is a useful tool for officers, Peete says they aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits. “We’re providing more resources to keep the community safe, we’re providing more resources to keep officers engaged, and to bring more levels of competency to bear for any given situation that this community may face,” Peete said.

The department began rolling out the body cameras earlier this week. Chief Peete says the goal is to bring the VR equipment to other departments throughout the state to provide them with similar situational training.

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