Lodi police show off virtual reality system

City Councilman Doug Kuehne test the APEX simulator in the Rick Cromwell Community Room in Lodi at Tuesday's shirt sleeve meeting.

The Lodi Police Department shared its new Apex Officer Virtual Reality Police Training Simulator system at a Lodi City Council shirtsleeve meeting on Tuesday morning.

The system is meant to test an officer’s use of force by mimicking realistic crisis situations that officers might experience while out on the field.

The system is made up of of two laser tripods, which track the movement of the person interacting with the simulation. The laser can track movement in a room as small as 3 square feet, or a space as large as 40 square feet.

The participant is equipped with a virtual reality-style helmet, which incorporates them into the simulation. They are also outfitted with a 10-pound backpack and a utility belt equipped with a taser, a gun and a flashlight to respond to their surroundings.

The simulation environment is projected onto a screen, allowing others to watch and review the session later. The Lodi Police Department was able to purchase the Apex Simulator with money from its general fund.

“This system is used to train new officers who have just graduated from the academy, understand how to de-escalate a situation, and trust their judgment,” Lt. Steven Nelson said.

City officials tested the virtual-reality system to understand both the system and the environment that officers are confronted with.

Deputy City Manager Andrew Keys was inducted into an active shooter simulation on a school campus, where a virtual shooter attacked him.

“My adrenaline was pumping, and my heart was racing. You don’t expect them to come towards you so fast,” Keys said.

The system aims to create an immersive hyper-realistic environment.

Nelson, who coordinates and offers feedback with the makers of the system, said that Apex Officer is constantly updating the system with realistic crisis situations.

“They are testing school shooting scenarios so that officers going into these situations know how to prepare and react,” Nelson said.

Nelson also encouraged the developers of the system to provide the perpetrators in this situation an option that allows them to surrender their weapons.

“Before, that was not an option, and if we are focusing on de-escalation training you need to have that as part of the simulation because nine times out of 10 people surrender their weapons,” Nelson said.

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