(Alex Schäfer – Police NRW, Germany)
My first role after joining the police was patrolling the streets and 7,5 years later I added some more experience working in the riot police. Following an extended training, I became a police trainer and now I train police trainers. Our unit forms up to 150 Police trainers a year for the most densely populated part of Germany.
This is how I realized my dream, being active, always looking to learn, searching for the excitement of a new challenge, working in a dynamic international team, fighting for a safer society to live in.
I always look for best practices elsewhere, not because I think the grass is greener on the other side but because I believe that we can always learn from each other. Every police officer is confronted with the same problems no matter where in the world. But the solutions differ. My colleagues in the Netherlands have better integrated inclusive training systems. They have years of experience with body cams and mobile communication technology in their vehicles. We try to learn from them and with introducing VR we hope to make a jump into future policing.
“VR is not a magic want, it is a good complement to some parts of police training.”
Training an arrest, training with the baton, or shooting training is best done in the physical dimension but VR training is good for tactical policing, communication and perception. VR can also save money for the police department since you can be quicker to adapt to a changed modus operandi of criminals or terrorists. It allows to build tailor-made training for specific building, specific scenarios,… VR also allows to train in a setting that is otherwise difficult to train in real life because its complexity, like how to evacuate a metro station at rush hour or how to control a crowd.
The level of immersion in VR training is a real game changer. You can train complex police interventions with a high level of realism and a high stress level. You can repeat the same training scenario over and over again until the officer succeeds to stay in control.
That is why I truly believe that in 10 years’ time many police officers will do what pilots have been doing for decades: to fly real planes AND to train in a simulator. It has made the aviation sector safe, I’m sure everyone is convinced that making our societies equally safe , disserves the same attention and investment by complementing police training with VR training.