Blog Briefing Room

Pilot program uses VR to train cops how to handle those with mental illness

A new virtual reality tool is being used to help police officers understand how to handle situations with people in psychiatric distress or with mental illnesses. 

The pilot program is taking place in Chicago, where officers are learning virtually what people with mental health challenges experience, according to ABC News

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Wednesday announced that the department was working with the company Axon US to give officers the virtual reality training. He also posted a preview of the technology. 

  

"This is really an innovative technology and it's very compelling," behavioral scientist Bill Lewinski, who studies officer use of force, told ABC. "There are some verbal programs out there that allow you to hear what someone is hearing, as opposed to seeing and hearing, but virtual reality is on the forefront of teaching tools in this area."

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the TV station that when he was working as an officer on the street, he ran into many people with mental health challenges, including autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

Outbrain