The country continues to grapple with riots and violent protests while activists are still demanding we defund the police. And as the Minneapolis city council begins to regret defunding their police department, a local police department in Edmonds, Washington is tackling police interactions much differently. Instead of defunding and demoralizing, they decided to alter their training program to improve the interactions police have with the public, namely, those with mental health problems. As seen in the tweet below, the Edmonds Police Department tweeted a video of their new VR training procedures that address one of the root causes of negative police interactions.
The program uses VR technology to place the officers in theoretical situations that they must navigate correctly in order to pass. It also gives them a consistent training tool to help keep the department more cohesive. The twist however is the actual content of the training itself. The situations they are training for are not epic shootouts or drug busts. They are instead, training to deal with mentally ill subjects that don’t need or can’t handle force. Such individuals include those with depression, such as a suicide attempt; schizophrenia, which might include a somewhat dangerous but non-lethal person who needs help, not force; or someone with autism, which might not understand common social ques and police commands.
From the perspective of someone who watches leftwing activists fighting for the wrong reasons (blaming police for when felons don’t listen to or obey simple commands) while seeing stories about real police abuse due to poor training going unnoticed, this is a sight for sore eyes. Instead of defunding the department, they are taking a proactive approach to lessen the loss of life and better help the community while accounting for situations where normal training doesn’t help. We need more departments using technology to help them get a better perspective on what the public goes through. In fact, officers of the Edmonds Police Department are also being placed in the role of the person in crisis, giving them a perspective from the eyes of the public. Empathy based training exercises are one of the best things we can do right now, which is in stark contrast to BLM-Antifa’s “defund the police” ideas.