Feds award Oregon City police $149K for virtual simulator
Federal officials have approved $149,375.16 in funding for the Oregon City Police Department to purchase training equipment.
Through a federal grant with the U.S. Department of Justice office of Community Oriented Policing Office, OCPD is purchasing a simulator that provides real-world scenarios designed to help hone an officer's de-escalation, better decision-making, proper threat assessment, accuracy and speed.
OCPD Chief Jim Band told city commissioners on Nov. 16 that the department is constantly focused on police training efforts to improve strategies to improve public safety, enhance transparency, reduce crime, and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the community.
To expand transparency, this year also featured the expansion of OCPD's body-worn camera program by purchasing and requiring all uniformed officers be equipped with a camera during their shift. Body-worn cameras help to tell and capture the story, allowing for additional perspectives of what happened on a call as well as shares with the community a lifesaving effort.
Band said the next step in continuing to evolve in the policing industry is current, modern technology to educate officers with additional and various tools to improve their skills for situational awareness and less-lethal options.
The federal COPS Grant that is allowing OCPD to purchase the VirTra V-180 equipment will allow the department to have virtual, interactive, simulator in-house available for more frequent training opportunities and provide access to other area police agencies.
"The combination of these two technology-based programs can be an effective tool to improve the understanding of interactions between law enforcement and members of the community and allow for better decision-making through situational awareness and proper threat assessment," Band said.
Band said OCPD's research into simulation system began prior to the call to action to reform police use of force and dealing with at-risk populations in the community, which became a focus of concern and attention by the community, media and agencies of oversight in 2020.
VirTra system administrators have promised to help provide OCPD and other participating agencies with up-to-date technology training for various situations that officers are unable to simulate with just a textbook. This training will better prepare them for when they are on duty and encounter these circumstances.
This system features three screens and a 180-degree immersive training environment aiming to impart real world survival skills.
"In keeping the department up to date with this cutting-edge simulation technology, officers can be continually exposed to various situations in training," Band said. "It will help them become better prepared in situations they encounter on a daily basis as well as those more intense conditions."
OCPD plans to use the virtual simulator to educate members of the public on the challenges of policing by running them through scenarios; members of the Oregon City Commission, Chief's Advisory Council and the OCPD Citizen's Academy may have the opportunity to use the equipment, Band said.
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