EXCLUSIVE: Bellevue Police use realistic simulators to train officers on de-escalation
BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - The use of force by police officers is coming under scrutiny across the country.
In a 6 News exclusive, reporter Leigh Waldman steps inside of a state-of-the-art simulator that makes traditional police training a thing of the past.
Officers with Bellevue Police Department walk into unknown situations everyday with not much to go on besides a short dispatch call.
“You already get told on the way what’s going on and somewhat, you don’t know the full details," John Stuck, a sergeant with the department said.
Sgt. Stuck has been training officers with the department for 20 years now.
“One of the things that we need to work is just from square one of being a police officer is just how to talk to people," he said.
They’re helping their officers learn how to do just that through the department’s VirTra training simulator. BPD has had it for a few years now.
Officers can experience realistic emergency calls in a 360-degree simulation ranging from calls about fights to a distraught employee with a gun.
It’s all done in an environment where they can watch the callback and learn from it.
“There’s no black-and-white answer I can give you because everybody is different," Stuck explained. "You decided to talk to him and go there. I just want to put in the back of your mind because the training part is, ‘all right, are you ready to go? To what weapon systems were you ready to go to?’ ”
But even with this realistic technology, Sgt. Stuck says police are in need of more training.
“There’s more police officers that agree we need more training across the board than anybody in the entire career of this field that I’ve ever heard.”
Stuck says he hears the calls across the country to defund the police, he understands the frustration. However, he wants people to know if departments are going to do better, more resources need to be put into their officer training before they’re put out on the streets.
“We’ve been fighting to get more training. But what people don’t get is that politicians hold the purse strings when it comes to how much money a department gets," Stuck said.
Earlier this summer, the Senate passed a bill to increase officer training when it comes to implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, and mental health screenings.
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