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5 benefits of a portable virtual training system

A portable simulator maximizes the ability of a department to efficiently train its officers, as well as educate communities about police use of force


Your agency might be spread over a large geographical area making it hard to gather officers in a central location without leaving gaps in coverage.


Being able to take a virtual training system into the field offers many benefits for law enforcement agencies. Departments can share training resources and costs, hold outreach events to educate the public and the media, and implement remedial training when training deficits are identified during major incident response. This article outlines the reasons why a portable system belongs in your agency’s training arsenal.

Simulators add realism

Dozens of articles have been written about the benefits of simulator technology for officer training. While the original thrust was to save money for firearms training, the leading manufacturers have moved forward into repeatable use of force and de-escalation scenarios.

Not only is de-escalation good for an officer’s safety, it helps with good community relations – and there is no reason you should not use your simulator to educate the public about the split-second decisions that officers need to make when they head out into the community.

Many citizens seem to believe that aiming a replica firearm at an officer should be laughed off, or that an officer should shoot a weapon out of a suspect’s hand rather than taking a shot center of mass.

While a 270-degree wrap-around simulator is nice to have, they are expensive and certainly aren’t transportable. The key points for purchasing any simulator are to ensure that it offers realistic, repeatable scenarios with sufficient branching to allow the scenario to change based on an officer’s response. A good-quality single-, dual- or three-screen simulator that packs up into a handful of wheeled cases will serve your agency well.

The benefits of a portable simulator

  1. Your agency might be spread over a large geographical area making it hard to gather officers in a central location without leaving gaps in coverage. It might be easier to send a simulator trainer around the jurisdiction on a regular schedule.
  2. While some agencies have set up dedicated simulator rooms with room for a 270-degree simulator, nearby physical training and an observation gallery, your agency’s simulator might need to be set up on your indoor range or share space in a local senior center or church, council chambers or another temporary location. A portable simulator can help minimize set up and tear-down time, maximizing your training time.
  3. Many portable simulators come in cases that can be shipped by common carriers such as UPS or FedEx. This can allow multiple smaller agencies to pool their funds to share a more advanced simulator than each of them alone could afford.
  4. By bringing a portable simulator to citizen meetings, fairs or shopping center events, you can let your community members walk a mile in your officers’ shoes to get a feel for how difficult it is to perform movie magic in real life. After an officer-involved shooting, you might want to re-create the situation to help explain what happened.
  5. Even good shoots are the subject of lawsuits these days and your officers and command staff might find themselves named in a criminal or civil lawsuit. Just like putting citizens into a simulator can help them understand the officer’s state of mind, wheeling a portable simulator into court can help a jury understand your side of the argument. Both prosecution and defense can run through a shoot at full speed and step by step to explain why specific actions needed to be taken during the encounter. You might want to superimpose body-worn camera and in-vehicle video over the simulation to aid in understanding.


The latest portable simulators offer many features that allow you to train your officers cost-effectively and efficiently.

Ron LaPedis is an NRA-certified Chief Range Safety Officer, NRA, USCCA and California DOJ-certified instructor, is a uniformed first responder, and frequently writes and speaks on law enforcement, business continuity, cybersecurity, physical security and public/private partnerships.

He has been recognized as a Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute (FBCI), a Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Institute, Master Business Continuity Professional (MBCP), and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Contact Ron LaPedis