Virtual reality headsets used to train Hill AFB security on use of force

Dec 16, 2021, 6:10 PM | Updated: 8:12 pm

 HILL AFB, Utah – Airmen at Hill Air Force Base are now using virtual reality to train themselves to handle some high-pressure situations. 

The headset technology gives the Hill military police access to a variety of scenarios. 

These are the police you see at the base checkpoints and gates. They also respond to law enforcement calls on base. 

Sometimes they may need to make a split-second decision on whether the use of force is necessary. 

“Hello ma’am, I’m doing good. How are you?” one of the trainees asks a digital actor. 

The job can seem routine but it can become dangerous in a split second. The guard suddenly yells, “Sir! Sir! Stop! Put down the gun!” 

Virtual reality prepares them for virtually anything. 

Tech Sgt. Elizabeth Gregson said, “So the advantage of having these scenarios in virtual reality is to consistently train our defenders.” 

Trainers can load just about any scenario in a matter of seconds. 

Gregson explained one of those scenarios to a class. “You’ve been dispatched to a disturbance call between a male and a female in housing.” 

The digital actors talk and respond to commands but other times they don’t, much like real life. 

Gregson said, “We know already as law enforcement that use of force is what we call our bread and butter. It is something that we consistently train on to make those right decisions.” 

Learning when to use force and when not to is huge. This program gives trainers the ability to load different situations and outcomes and play it back afterward. 

Staff Sgt. Devon Ashton said, “I think it’s a huge deal to be able to give feedback and then be able to see what they did wrong and what they did right maybe and be able to build upon that.” 

It doesn’t replace what they’ve done before. 

Tech Sgt. Elizabeth Gregson loads a new virtual reality scenario. (KSL TV) Senior Airman Garza trains with a head set. (KSL TV) Senior Airman Garza and Tech Sgt. Elizabeth Gregspm (KSL TV)

Gregson said, “Nothing gets better than putting on gear and running around after each other and really getting after it in a training environment, but this just gives us another tool.” 

Virtual reality offers one more way to prepare for those decisions that can mean life or death. 

“It’s imperative to make the right decisions,” Ashton added. 

The 75th Security Squadron at Hill received three of those headsets last July.  

They can use them to train in teams, even split up and coordinate through the headsets. 

All they need is empty space like a warehouse. 

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Virtual reality headsets used to train Hill AFB security on use of force