Bridgewater, NJ - At the Bridgewater Township Council meeting tonight, the Council approved the purchase of the Street Smart VR (Virtual Reality) System. Bridgewater Township Police is partnering with Street Smart VR in an effort to continue providing the best possible training for Township officers.
The system provides hundreds of training scenarios, acquired through body-worn camera footage, to put officers through real life situations. The equipment is portable and can be set up almost anywhere. The training session is recorded which allows for a playback critique session with the officers from multiple angles and in-depth reference points.
“I applaud Chief Payne for having the initiative and awareness to continue to improve upon our already world class Police Department,” said Mayor Matthew Moench. “With programs like this and the leadership we have in place, I am confident that Bridgewater will become a shining example of a modern, forward thinking Department.”
“Because of high profile officer-involved shootings throughout the United States, there has been a call on national, state, and local levels for more police training that involves de-escalation techniques instead of deployment of physical, mechanical, or deadly force,” said Police Chief Paul Payne. “This agency embraces any new and cutting edge training that provides opportunities for our officers to improve their skills in dealing with tense situations while serving our community.”
Although “shoot, don’t shoot” scenarios are part of VR training, various other training situations such as mental health dilemmas, active protest situations, and non-compliant suspects are encompassed in the training. It is difficult for instruction led classroom environments to provide this new level of training. VR training allows for customized real-world training that can match real-life situations but are in an arena that allows the officer to correct his or her mistakes and reinforce proper displays of force.
“As a bonus in acquiring the Street Smarts VR system is allowing the community a glimpse into the world of law enforcement. By allowing members of the community to take part in the VR training, when the pandemic allows, we can potentially widen the dialogue between the community and the police when it comes to the proper application of use of force in tense situations,” added Chief Payne.
A brief overview of the program can be view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF3CQ2C7PFg.