Milton Public library Digital Collections

Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), 12 Dec 2019, p. 23

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. + Someone in crisis," B NEWS HALTON POLICE LAUNCH VIRTUAL-REALITY TRAINING PROGRAM DAVID LEA Halton police will soon 'be using virtual reality to teach officers how to de-es- calate crisis situations. The new training pro- gram, which was developed in partnership with public- safety technology company Axon, was recently un- veiled at Halton police headquarters during a news conference. The virtual reality (VR) program will supplement existing training and will see officers enter a virtual world where they respond to a person in crisis. "Every year our officers attend approximately 3,500 calls for service that involve said Halton Police Deputy Chief Roger Wilkie. "These calls are incredi- bly challenging and unpre- dictable. This is why the Halton police have worked so diligently over the years" to develop.a robust mental health training curricula that best positions our front-line members to re- spond to these high- stake calls." The Axon VR program, which Halton police are the first police service in Cana- da to use, puts trainees in rm, ~~ § > i "ye wr . fr o a 3 % Nikki Wesley/Torstar Reporter David Lea tries the virtual reality training simulation with the Oculus GO headset. the shoes of both the person in crisis and the officer re- sponding to the call. The VR is immersive: look to the side, and you can see your partner; look be- hind you, and. you can see nearby houses. An Oculus Go 'headset puts the wearer in the pre- recorded video scenario where the choices made de- termine the ultimate out- come. The scenarios include: « Responding to a person in crisis who has autism « Responding to a person in crisis who has schizo- phrenia | « Responding to a person who is suicidal For the schizophrenia seenario, you begin by see- ing through the eyes of a man in crisis who is on his front lawn, ranting about some conspiracy as his mother frantically at- tempts to calm him down. Looking down at your hand, and you realize you are holding a screwdriver. You are further dis- turbed by the bright lights and sirens of an approach- ing police cruiser. At this point, your per- spective changes and you are now seeing through the eyes of one of the respond- ing officers. The scenario then freez- es, and the wearer is given ON NOW AT THE BRICK! 10. 0 on SAVE $100 Bw' WK URD Se mart T¥ TRL For more details go instore or online the first choice concerning how to proceed: "Talk to him" or "Make him drop the screwdriver." Selecting "Talk to him" results in-the officer assur- ing the man that he's not in trouble and that he hasn't done anything wrong. The officer politely asks the man to drop the screw- driver, which he does. The officer also in- structs his partner to shut off the lights on the cruiser, which are upsetting the man. Other choices follow, and by opting to keep the situation calm, the man eventually consents to be- ing assessed by medical professionals. When asked what would have happened if the "Make him drop the screwdriver" option had been chosen, Sgt. Dave Preece of the Hal- ton police training bureau says the officers would have drawn either a firearm or Taser on the man, which does little to achieve the de- escalation goal for the sce- nario. "I have personally expe- rienced the virtual reality scenarios, and I will tell you that this initiative is a game changer for the policing sector," said Wilkie. "What I can confidently MEDICAL "| have personally experienced the virtual reality scenarios, and | will tell you that this Initiative is a game say 1s that this partnership with Axon will bolster com- munity safety and well-be- ing for the residents of Hal- ton region as we leverage technology to better meet the training needs of our of- ficers and ultimately en- hance service delivery to our community." Wilkie also talked about the importance of that por- tion of the scenario where the trainee sees from the point of view of the person in crisis. He said getting officers to look at crisis situations from a different perspective allows them to be more pre- pared and understand how best to engage that person. "Having an officer aware of what lights and sirens can do to someone's mind- set or of different barriers or noise around the person that can impact their ability or willingness to engage changer for the policing sector." - Deputy Chief Roger Wilkie with the officers -- when you start with that perspec- tive, it changes the way you approach and enter into di- - alogue with the person in crisis," said Wilkie. The deputy chief said currently officers engage in crisis de-escalation train- ing through role playing, which, he noted, can be in- consistent, depending on the actors involved. He said the VR scenarios provide that consistency and standardization. When asked about the cost of the program, Wilkie said it was negligible. He said Halton police uoidweyn ueipeue) uo | SZ 6102 'Zl 18quwadaq 'Aepsiny | have received 20 Oculus Go -- headsets from Axon at a cost of less than $1,000 each. Wilkie anticipates more VR scenarios will be creat- ed to train officers in areas of judgment and more. The VR training will be- gin in January 2020. SOLUTIONS Painful Heels & Do you have chronic heel pain? & Is your heel pain usually worse in the morning? You may have plantar fasciitis. Call we can help. Call for an Appointment * Milton 289-878-7334 over 100,000 HAPPY FEET TREATED! 450 Bronte Street South, Unit 101 » Wo uoleyapisul

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