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Racine County sheriff looks to add new virtual reality training to help deputies de-escalate certain situations

Posted at 5:55 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 18:55:03-04

RACINE — The Racine County sheriff is looking to add additional technology for training deputies.

The hope is the virtual training will help deputies deescalate certain situations where a call involves a person who is suicidal or has autism or schizophrenia.

“We need to better train and better equip our law enforcement officers with de-escalation training technique,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

The virtual reality training draws on real-life scenarios, and each law enforcement officer experiences the call from two different perspectives, one from the person, the other from the deputy responding to the call. The deputy then has a choice on how to handle the situation. The hope is the deputy will respond with proper judgment and empathy.

“I think I’m dealing with someone who is suffering from autism, maybe we relax turn the lights off turn the sirens off, talk in a calmer voice, all these things deescalate the situation,” said Schmaling.

The VR training is made by the same company that outfitted the Racine Sheriff Department with body cameras. Last year, the department upgraded the system so the cameras can automatically turn on.

"Making sure these body cameras are on during the most critical moments when the community is going to want to know what transpired," said Schmaling.

The department is hoping to get 12 goggles for training. The department will submit next year’s budget to the County Board next month.

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