Virtual Reality: The Future of Police Training Unfolding in Rutherford County

Jun 24, 2024 at 08:06 pm by WGNS News

Rutherford County, TN - A Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) professor is pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) as a training tool for police officers. Dr. Ben Stickle, a former police officer and current Criminal Justice professor, co-authored a Bureau of Justice Assistance grant for the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Michael Rodgers with the RCSO stated...


The grant, titled “Virtual Reality De-Escalation Evidence-based Training Program,” secured $685,730 to be used over a three-year period, with $315,445 allocated to MTSU for research.

Lt. Rogers said in person-to-person training, there is a lack of force used... But in VR training, use of force comes into play...

Rutherford County is one of eight recipients of this highly competitive grant. Dr. Stickle, alongside Lt. Rodgers, will oversee the VR training to determine if it matches the effectiveness of traditional de-escalation and crisis intervention training.

According to the grant guidelines, the program should focus on developing fully immersive training that improves police responses to individuals in crisis. To achieve this, a comprehensive review of multiple training areas that could benefit from VR technology will be necessary.

Funds from the grant will ultimately lead to better training in localized scenarios such as school incidents, mental health crises, drug overdoses, and dangerous situations that might occur in real life rural settings. Community residents and mental health professionals will contribute to the development of these realistic training scenarios that follow evidence-based principles.


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