Toronto police look to improve technology

TORONTO — City police safety and use of force decisions during critical incidents are an ongoing source of concern for law enforcement officers and the public. Prior research in the area of police performance reveals that psychological and physiological stress responses during critical incidents can shape the outcome of the incident, either positively or negatively.

With that in mind, the city of Toronto and its police department are looking at new and improved technology that provides decision-based training to officers.

Mayor John Parker explained the city is looking into grant funding to purchase products by VirTra. VirTra provides law-enforcement organizations with use-of-force and weapons simulator training — from portable, single-screen firearms simulators to the most advanced 300-degree use-of-force simulator.

The police department is looking into acquiring VirTra’s top-of-the-line, 300-degree wrap-around video simulator, which will enable officers to train for the most difficult real-world situations, including ambushes, active shooters and maintaining full situational awareness during extreme stress. Officer presence, communication skills training, tactical de-escalation training, Taser and deadly force simulations are all available for police simulation using standard-issue weapons, according to Parker.

This new technology training program will not only give city officers the skills to conduct customized scenario-based training in-house, but it will provide the equipment needed to safely and effectively conduct this critical training. This is a cost-effective method of bringing scenario-based training, which replicates real-world, high-stress situations, to city law enforcement officers. Scenario-based training will give officers the opportunity to sharpen their decision making, team work, communications, de-escalation, and force-on-force, in a safe training environment.