Police officers in the USA are among the best trained in the world. But the world is changing rapidly, and while there are many growing challenges in policing, there are also new tools that police forces across the nation are putting to good use.
Ensuring public safety at the lowest possible human cost is paramount for any law enforcement officer. There are a number of new tools that help police departments around the country achieve this goal, three of which we will highlight in this article.
Here are the top innovations that promise a better future for police agencies, and consequently their ability to serve and protect communities across the country.
Virtual Reality (VR) Crime Scenes
Although VR has been around for a couple of decades, it only recently became a reliable tool for police departments. In its early stages, VR software was basic and unable to provide sufficiently detailed imaging. It was prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to use.
Investment in VR has allowed the field to develop significantly and transform VR into the sophisticated technology it is today. Now, it is possible to virtually recreate a crime scene without missing even the slightest of details.
Doing so requires a multi-pronged effort by a police department. The first step is for officers to show up at the scene, joined by one or more photographers who are tasked with visually documenting the entire episode. Once back at the headquarters, these photographs are pieced together to create a 360-degree virtual model of the incident.
While taking photos offers one method, a more sophisticated way to capture a crime scene is through laser distance meters. The dimensions and positions of the objects at the scene are carefully measured using these devices. The data is entered into a special computer program and, once the process is finished, a video game-like model is ready to be used to investigate the crime in question.
VR has definitely come a long way: it went from being met with a great deal of skepticism to now being used as credible evidence in courtrooms.
Advanced Shooting Simulators
As useful as standard shooting ranges can be, remaining stationary limits how much an officer’s ability to handle a gun can improve. Virtual shooting simulators, such as Apex Officer, provide a far wider range of possibilities for training such as the use of tunnel vision and the simulation of sudden shooting scenarios.
Officers are usually trained to neutralize an attacker that shoots at them unexpectedly. This can pose an extraordinary challenge, as explained by this Texas shooting survivor. In these situations, officers are faced with the dilemma of either firing immediately without accurately aiming their gun or losing seconds that could be vital in assessing their target.
Fortunately, a new generation of advanced shooting simulators offers a more realistic type of training that could enable officers to find a balance between the two options. Training officers consider firing fast and missing as worse than getting the first hit straight away, as it reduces the risk of collateral damage.
Online Training Courses
Police departments are keen to make training programs more efficient and comfortable, and have gradually turned to online police academies such as PoliceOne to train new recruits. One of the biggest advantages of virtual education is that it can take up to 60% less time to complete than standard courses, research shows.
Trainees are not the only ones who benefit from this. Heads of programs have reduced workloads as they no longer have to spend time coordinating classroom availability, schedules and looking for instructors.
These three innovations promise to help create a better future for law enforcement agencies and the communities they tirelessly work to protect. When law enforcement officers are at the top of their game facing new and evolving challenges with the tools of today, the nation’s safety and security are guaranteed.