There are a good and growing number of companies out there making top-quality police use-of-force simulators. One of them is InVeris Training Solutions.
More senior (old) command staff know the name FATS (Firearms Training Systems), which subsequently became known as Meggitt Training Systems when it was acquired by Meggitt PLC. Early last year, Meggitt Training Systems was acquired by another company and was renamed InVeris Training Solutions.
Eric Perez—director of virtual systems sales at InVeris Training Solutions and a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps—explains, "Meggitt Trading Systems was sold by Meggitt PLC—the parent company—to a private equity firm called Pine Island Capital Partners. Pine Island Capital Partners obviously had to rebrand what they bought and that's how InVeris was born."
According to a company announcement made at the time of the sale to Pine Island Capital Partners, the name 'InVeris' connotes insight and truth.
"The rebranding reflects the Company's pride in standing behind the bravest, best-trained men and women around the world and to providing comprehensive training solutions that prepare them to act at a moment's notice to protect the communities and countries they serve," the announcement read.
Early Adoption of Evolving Technology
Recently, the company released details of its all-new advanced training solution called the VR-DT (Virtual Reality Decisions and Tactics) or 'Verdict.' The system uses the latest fully immersive VR technology for training de-escalation of force in a wide variety of critical, real-world situations.
InVeris also recently announced that California's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (CA POST)—which oversees training statewide—will serve as the solution's launch customer.
The company plans to deliver 50 systems during a six-month period as part of a $2.6 million contract award with the option for up to $5 million in additional systems and related equipment.
"InVeris will supply 100 scenarios with branching options initially, plus 10 state-mandated ones per year of the contract," according to a company statement.
A scenario authoring tool will enable agencies to create custom content to enhance realism using situations and settings reflective of where in California they are located. Cops in Long Beach have a different set of challenges than cops in Sacramento or Oakland, so the training needs to be tailored accordingly to reflect what they might encounter on patrol.
Perez explained, "The idea that we wanted to do in a law enforcement community was not necessarily a shoot don't shoot. We created that—what is now the industry standard—the decision and tactics really comes from my team, my law enforcement team on being able to do the escalation and de-escalation of force."
Perez continued, "How do you put an officer or two officers into a highly immersive environment so that they actually feel they're in that environment? Today it's done with projectors. I mean, you've seen that with our 300 system, our 180 system or our flat system."
Not a Game
Perez says that this next generation of training system takes advantage of the type of technology used by people globally—a sort of heads-up display worn on the officer not unlike what many of us have connected to a gaming console like Oculus Quest—but in these scenarios, it's nothing like a game. It's heart-pounding training that can help officers remain safe, and protect other people from harm.
"The VR-DT builds on nearly four decades of experience designing projection-based systems, but provides even greater realism," Perez said.
The system combines state-of-the-art hardware, scalable software and a content library that is always increasing. A variety of officer weapons and equipment can be accommodated, including simulated pistols, rifles, shotguns, batons, TASERs, OC sprays and flashlights. The adjustable and modular system works anywhere for one- to two-person sessions.
Utilizing the latest wireless, high-definition headsets with impressive 360-degree fields of view and weapons tracking, officers train in fully immersive environments that put them in the action. The ability to perform a traffic stop or intervene in a domestic altercation from two perspectives, create distance and angles between students and move to cover are all enhanced with the VR-DT.
Company literature says that depending on the trainee's actions, the instructor can "branch the scenarios to escalate or de-escalate the situation, then review their decision-making skills to ensure proper tactics are used from any angle during after-action review."
Asking and Answering "Why?"
Training is typically one of the first budget items to be cut when law enforcement agencies' budgets are cut—it's a sad but undeniable truth known all too well by police command staff.
So, when a chief or a sheriff or a director of training comes to the city council or county commissioners with a request for some really high-tech training tools—and not without a price-tag—what do you say? How do you explain the benefit of the investment to a dais of elected leaders who've never been involved in any manner of use of force, and despite being elected leaders, have very little grasp of the Fourth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, or the Eighth Amendment.
How do you explain to these elected officials—who hold the purse strings for your agency—that an investment in this technology is not just needed but necessary?
In answer to this question, Perez used just one word.
"Liability," he said.
A Complex Problem
Training for use of force, de-escalation, decision-making, and the rest of the ingredients in the jambalaya that is a patrol shift for any and every cop in America is a complex problem. There are new challenges every day it seems such as mobs loot the mom-and-pop shops and the big-box chain stores.
The need for knowing self-care and buddy care in times in which attacks on officers seem to be increasing.
People shooting the neighbor's dog instead of calling animal control to resolve what seems a simple dispute over a noise complaint.
The people at InVeris Training Solutions understand the complexity of what cops face every day across America, and are willing—eager—partners to work with agencies to help train officers in resolving whatever challenges they face.