VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A split-second decision can mean the difference between life and death, which is why Virginia Beach Police are revamping the way officers are trained.
In April, through grant money, the department purchased the MILO training simulator. It's a computer system, equipped with more than 1,000 scenarios, that puts officers, recruits and even citizens through real-life training.
"What it allows us to do is immerse our officers in scenarios that we know they're going to find themselves in out on the street," said Police Chief Paul Neudigate.
Examples include responding to a call for someone dealing with a mental health crisis, going to a home where Child Protective Services needs to step in, initiating traffic stops and controlling active shooter situations.
Each scenario is different, but plausible in Virginia Beach, forcing officers, in a split-second, to make the right call.
"It's all about slowing things down and bringing resources to the table and try to avoid rushing into a scenario," Neudigate said. "When we have distance and we have cover, that gives our officers time, and when we have time we can communicate. De-escalation is all about two-way communication."
The weapon systems that work with MILO are all laser-based, meaning projectiles aren't coming out of any of the "weapons."
Officers going through the training are also equipped with full gear, just as they would be out on the streets.
Neudigate said the department looks through body camera footage weekly and supervisors pinpoint where current officers can improve.
"Many times we have positive outcomes and we looked at the BWC and we're like, 'OK, it was a good outcome, but not necessarily good tactics that got us there.' So when we start looking at that, part of identifying poor tactics, or maybe some poor decision making, we're going to identify those officers and of course refer them down here to the training academy to go through some MILO scenarios."
In the future, the department is hoping to upgrade the system, allowing them to take incidents that happened in Virginia Beach and eventually turn them into MILO scenarios.
It's an opportunity to learn from mistakes made within the Resort City.
Going forward the community is also invited to experience the training simulator. If you are interested in doing so you can reach out to the Public Affairs Office at VBPDPublicAffairs@vbgov.com or (757) 385-4097.
News 3 asked the department if they have seen a decrease of use-of-force tactics since implementing the new technology, but they said it is still too early to tell.