ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix police to use virtual reality headsets for empathy training

Jan 8, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:44 am

(Screenshot)...

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department responds to calls involving behavioral health issues every day.

Soon, the department will have more access to better handle those calls thanks to a new technology from Scottsdale-based Axon, which offers de-escalation empathy training through virtual reality headsets.

Phoenix police said it will add Axon’s VR headsets in the next three to four months.

“These are shot in a first-person perspective, so when you have an opportunity to go through it you’ll play both the individual going through a crisis, hone in on what it feels like and then you also go through the perspective as a responding officer and can see how stressful that is,” Laura Brown, a senior trainer with Axon, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

The de-escalation training includes different simulations for schizophrenia, autism, and suicide.

The immersive training includes hearing voices, shadows and also allows for interaction with a hand control that acts as a pointer for the officer to decide what to do next.

Axon worked with clinicians to make everything as realistic as possible.

“We’re specifically training them on states of being or conditions that you may not be verbally responsive to verbal commands,” Brown said.

KTAR News went through a simulation of someone experiencing a schizophrenic episode. Voices were heard through the VR headset and shadows were seen as police were attempting to approach the person who was in a mental crisis.

It was realistic in the sense that anywhere you looked or walked, you were inside the scene until it ended with a black screen giving you a statistic about behavioral health.

“It’s not the first time we are talking about what de-escalation training is all about,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said. “We’re reaching out to technology and actually using technology, I think it’s just going to make us better.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Split image showing the entry to the Avondale Aquatic Center on the left and an aerial view of the ...

Kevin Stone

Avondale Aquatic Center to make a splash in West Valley with pools, slides, lazy river, more

The Avondale Aquatic Center is getting ready to make a splash with pools, water slides, a lazy river and more.

54 minutes ago

Seven-year-old Israel Maldonado was last seen in Phoenix on April 17, 2024, with his father. (Arizo...

KTAR.com

Police looking for boy last seen with father, who allegedly assaulted child’s mother in Phoenix

Authorities are searching for a 7-year-old boy who was last seen with his father Wednesday after the man allegedly assaulted the child's mother.

4 hours ago

Split image with a band playing in front of a Mesa mural on the left and an aerial view of the Mesa...

Kevin Stone

7th annual Mesa Music Festival gives emerging artists their turn in spotlight

Dozens of emerging musical artists will show off their chops this week during the seventh annual Mesa Music Festival.

5 hours ago

The Arizona Department of Transportation asked the public for input on Wednesday. (File photo by Da...

KTAR.com

ADOT seeking public input to update Arizona’s highway safety strategic plans

The Arizona Department of Transportation wants the public to share their thoughts on the future of the state's highways.

6 hours ago

Fans participate in the NCAA Men's Final Four Dribble at Fan Fest on April 7, 2024 in Phoenix, Ariz...

Damon Allred

Phoenix’s Final Four Fan Fest achieves Zero Waste mark

Final Four Fan Fest was a success at the Phoenix Convention Center, as it reached a Zero Waste mark determined by waste diversion.

6 hours ago

Ernie the tamandua is the Phoenix Zoo's newest animal...

KTAR.com

Phoenix Zoo welcomes newest resident, a tamandua named Ernie

The Phoenix Zoo invited the public to come and visit its newest resident, a young tamandua named Ernie, in a Wednesday announcement.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Phoenix police to use virtual reality headsets for empathy training