MADISONVILLE, Ky. (WEHT) A western Kentucky sheriff’s office is taking some of its real world training to the virtual world.

When you think of virtual reality headsets, you may think of something that’s used to play a game while wearing them. But now, these are being used by law enforcement agencies like the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office to train for real life situations.

“This is where law enforcement training is going, and we’re trying to get out in front of it,” said Dep. Jeff Welch of the Hopkins Co. Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office is using WRAP Reality virtual reality training system, where deputies simulate dozens of situations, including active shooters and traffic stops, in immersive virtual scenarios. Deputy Welch says his department is the first Kentucky law enforcement agency to use it.

“This can put them as close to a real life situation as they can get into because you have complete 360 situational awareness that you have to brace for,” he said.

The WRAP system also lets deputies or officers check surroundings behind them. Director of Training Robert Bemis of wrap says most simulations focus on training an officer or deputy’s communication, de-escalation or conflict resolution skills.

The large vast majority of calls that a law enforcement agency deals with everyday have absolutely nothing to do with force. It has to do with the need to be effective in communication and judgment and decision making,” he explained.

“The thing i like about this one is in a lot of the scenarios here is there’s no use of force whatsoever. It’s all communication, getting officers to talk to victims or suspects,” added Dep. Welch.

The system is already being used in 15 other states, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada.

(This story was originally published on July 7, 2022)