Arizona – The Legislature allocated $2.1 million to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) last session to purchase virtual training simulators for training of law enforcement officers throughout Arizona. After proper vetting by state procurement officials, the contract to purchase seven simulators was awarded to Tempe, Arizona based, VirTra, Inc.
The VirTra simulators offer not only state of the art simulation and tactical firearms but also de-escalation training (vital for police-community relations) utilizing five screens in a 300-degree immersive training environment. Officers and cadets will experience real world survival skills utilizing a very extensive scenario library.
“Providing the right tools for our law enforcement officers, who put their lives on the line to protect our citizens, is vital,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “These innovative virtual training simulators offer unparalleled preparation for the difficult real-world situations that our officers experience day-in and day-out.”
A key benefit of the new technology will be the role it plays in the relationship between law enforcement and the communities, especially in light of the unrest seen across the country recently. Arizona is the first in the nation to address the issue on a statewide level.
Senator Steve Smith, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and the leading advocate for simulator funding, said “It's imperative that we give our brave men and women in law enforcement every tool possible for them to succeed at their job, and it is also vitally important that the bridge between law enforcement and community continue to be strong. I believe this technology will help us continue the ongoing trust between our officers and the communities they serve."
"As President of the Maricopa County NAACP, I am very excited that police officers are going to receive the most up-to-date tactical and de-escalation training, " said Dr. Ann Hart. "I believe this program will save lives and it is my goal that someday every officer in Arizona will be able to train on these devices. I want to thank Governor Ducey, DPS Director Milstead, Senator Steve Smith and the Legislature for their support in this important step in improving police and community relations."
Seven simulators will be placed strategically throughout the state to ensure the greatest accessibility to law enforcement officers in Arizona. In addition to one simulator placed at DPS, the following locations have been selected to receive simulators:
• The Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy-Central Arizona
• The Mesa Police Department-Central Arizona
• Northeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy-Northern Arizona
• Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy-Northern Arizona
• Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy-Southern Arizona
• Western Arizona Law Enforcement Academy-Western Arizona
“With 64 firearms-related line of duty deaths across the country in 2016 so far, and countless more encounters with armed subjects, these virtual simulators modernize training for officers in the proper application of force and the ability to train them in de-escalation techniques” said Colonel Frank Milstead, Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.