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Calif. sheriff’s office using VirTra simulator for active shooter training

Officials hope the virtual training will prepare deputies for a real, worst-case scenario



By Police1 Staff

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. — The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office is now using a virtual reality simulator from VirTra to train deputies to respond to difficult scenarios, including active shooter events and mental health crises, NBC Bay Area reported on Thursday.

The agencies says that while deputies are already trained on these scenarios, VirTra will complement their skills.

“Each training scenario helps officers improve their critical thinking skills and tactical skills under pressure and the psychological stresses of lifelike situations,” Sheriff Carlos Bolanos told NBC Bay Area.

In the simulation, officers use a mock weapon to interact with a scenario that plays across five massive, 300-degree screens, according to SFGate. The simulations can recreate scenarios on school campuses, malls and other real-world locations.

Officials hope the VirTra simulator will prepare deputies for a real, worst-case scenario.

“We call it stress-inoculation -- if we continuously put them in high-stress scenarios, they are able to make decisions in high-stress situations,” Sgt. David Weidner told SFGate.

The agency is paying $60,000 a year to use the VirTra simulator and plans to share it with other agencies in the county, according to the report.