MIAMI – Virtual training is nothing new for the Miami Police Department. But a new training program is truly special as it uses nearly 360-degree screens and scenarios that adapt to an officer's words and actions.
The situations in the FATS 300 Immersive Training environment Tuesday were all virtual. But Miami police officers' statements, questions and actions were very real.
Instead of a set scenario repeatedly playing out the same way, encounters are different each time and are altered by an officer's instructor, according to their behavior.
"This is interactive. Depending on how the officer's responding, that's gonna dictate the scenario," Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said.
Scenarios are projected on screens surrounding the officer, so threats can come from any angle.
These can be anything, including traffic stops, hostage situations, active school shooters or even a disgruntled armed ex-employee, which was the scenario Local 10's Liane Morejon got to try out.
Once her subject pulled out a knife, she and her police partner drew their guns.
Luckily, her scenario successfully de-escalated.
"Your calm tone helped and you got her outside, which is what we want," Colina told Morejon. "You did an excellent job."
The program is now in its beta stages at the Miami Police Department -- one of only a few departments around the country with access to the technology.
Jay Ayala, of Meggitt Training Systems, said this type of training is more cost-efficient and easier to execute than a real-life exercise.
"At the end of the day, it's a simulator. You come in, press 'power' and run as many reps as you want," Ayala said.
Miami police officers will start using the training program as early as next week.