Police are being armed with their least deadly weapon yet: Virtual reality

Axon is the latest major organization to get into VR, and the company hopes it can cut down on deadly police shootings in the US.


September 24, 2019

VR is no longer a toy, kids. OK, technically it still is, but these days scientists, doctors, the military, and corporate giants like Walmart are getting their fair share of use out of the technology — especially for virtual training purposes.

Now Axon, the tech company known for creating the Taser and being a leading pusher of police body cameras, is the latest major firm to jump on (or shall we say “in”) the immersive bandwagon. 

The company’s main goal: To teach police officers empathy

According to a study from The Washington Post, 19% of all Americans fatally shot by police in 2019 had a mental illness. 

The focus of Axon’s “empathy development training” is to condition police officers to ask the right questions (in the right tone) to better assess high-pressure situations before pulling their weapons.

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A few months ago, Axon unveiled a virtual program in Chicago — using Oculus Go VR headsets — to train first responders in scenarios involving citizens with autism and schizophrenia. The company’s latest rollout is focused on preparing officers to better assist in suicide prevention.

This is just the beginning… 

Axon’s new training program seeks to put its trainees on both sides of the coin: the officer, and the person in need (here’s a 2D preview from Axon — use your imagination for the VR part).

As for the future of virtual reality in law enforcement, experts believe it has a whole lotta promise — providing immersive views of body-cam evidence, assisting in recruitment, or one day being utilized as therapy for officers experiencing PTSD.

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