Santa Ana police test new virtual training system

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Santa Ana police department is testing a new high-tech training system, designed to put officers in high stress situations.

During a media presentation, two officers ran through several scenarios including getting shot at during a traffic stop.

"Instantly your heart rate spikes, adrenaline starts pumping, he screamed some expletives at us, pointed the gun at us and the training just takes over," officer Kevin Katlin said.

It is just one of the scenarios, many designed by former law enforcement members, officers might face using the MEGGITT Firearms Training Simulator.

It is one of the companies using new technology to make officer training more realistic, starting with a 300 degree screen, immersing the officers in the scenario.

"We have things going on all around you, so the officer needs to understand, keep your head on a swivel, and pay attention, not only to what you're dealing with, but your surroundings," Johnathan Ayala from MEGGITT said.

The system also uses realistic guns, fitted for the system. Another focus is on de-escalating the high-stress scenarios.

An operator can choose the simulator's next action based on how an officer speaks or acts.

"Explain what exactly the officer said that deescalated the situation, or if it escalated, what did the officer do that potentially escalated the problem," Commander Mat Sorenson said.

MEGGITT says they're testing in several cities across the country. Santa Ana police hopes to have all officers train using the new equipment.

"When they're out in the field, and they see a scenario, it's almost like deja vu for them," Sorenson said.

Santa Ana police will test and evaluate the software for the next six to eight months.
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