MCALLEN, TX (June 14, 2017) – The Law Enforcement Program at South Texas College is taking their program to a whole new level by being the first police academy in the Rio Grande Valley to incorporate the newest, higher standard in firearms training simulations, the Virtra V-300.
Virtra is the newest training tool for law enforcement professionals that demonstrates how quickly decisions have to be made, and if they are not made immediately and rationally, lives can be lost, according to STC Law Enforcement Program Chair Victor Valdez.
The program plays out like a VR simulator. Real-world engagements occur in a 300-degree environment. Threats come from all directions. The disadvantages to training on a single-screen simulator, the cadet is only utilizing a 60-degree field of view, and doesn’t have to turn to scan the environment for a potential threat.
Valdez says the overall benefit of having this system is to enhance safety for the community. He states that it can now improve both public and officer safety because the simulator provides 300 degrees of situational awareness, realistic threat scenarios, and electronic impulse devices that induces real physiological stress.
“It allows us as instructors to put our cadets into scenarios where they have to determine whether to use deadly force or some intermediary weapon,” Valdez said. “Scenarios get projected on to screen, and there are actors that portray real life situations. Cadets are immersed into a school shooting situation or domestic disturbance.
“The focus here is to give our students exposure to real-world situations so that they are better prepared when they go out into the real world of law enforcement,” said Valdez.
Depending on the reaction of the cadets, the instructor has the authority to branch the scenario. They can deescalate the situation or escalate it without any hesitation.
“No one gets hurt and no one is dead. The real world precautions don’t happen here,” Valdez said. “Our students are able to practice again, and can advance to more challenging situations once they have succeeded. Let’s say they are working without having experience and now something happens. Guess what, now its real world precautions.”
For incoming cadets into the academy, this signifies the opportunities to comprehend the types of ‘real life’ scenarios.
What distinguishes the STC Policy Academy from local academies is that many are using the traditional single screen, which can condition officers to only anticipate threats happening directly in front.
“The Viro system challenges cadets not to just focus on what’s in front of them but behind them,” Valdez said. “Our goal is to break their tunnel vision. You not only have to deal with the threat but also be aware of your surroundings, including behind you.”