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Hill’s top cops enter digital age with virtual reality training simulations

By Deborah Wilber - | Nov 23, 2021

Photo supplied, Cynthia Griggs/U.S. Air Force

Staff Sgt. Brandon Wilson, 75th Security Forces Squadron, uses the Street Smarts Virtual Reality system to train on a scenario for how to de-escalate an armed person. The squadron recently implemented virtual reality to fully immerse themselves into three-dimensional, realistic situations to enhance their training.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Three-dimensional training systems are helping personnel with the 75th Security Forces Squadron on Hill Air Force Base act out real-world scenarios. The recently implemented training, Street Smarts Virtual Reality, simulates a range of situations including domestic violence, suicidal ideations, traffic stops, entry controller duties as well as active shooter incidents.

Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Gregson, 75th SFS training noncommissioned officer in charge, said airmen are gaining valuable critical thinking skills by being exposed to an array of situations in the controlled environment of a realistic and interactive virtual world.

SSVR includes body camera footage from live law enforcement incidents while allowing for trainers to create their own scenarios. According to Staff Sgt. Devon Ashton, 75th SFS unit trainer, the simulations are capable of play back, providing a third-person viewpoint with feedback on a participant’s performance.

“It has made our Defenders more confident in their skill set and the training experience as a whole much more immersive,” he said.

Gregson requested the idea for the systems through wing innovation funds in February after hearing good reviews from other bases in the Air Force Global Strike Command that had used the system. The 75th SFS received three SSVR systems, each costing $16,000, in July. Over time, the system will greatly reduce the squadron’s nonlethal, training ammunition costs, according to Gregson.

“This system doesn’t require an elaborate setup or safety protocol, which allows us to utilize it whenever we can,” she said.

Over 300 active duty and civilian personnel use the digital training platform at Hill Air Force Base. Ashton said units have benefited greatly from the first-person aspect of the SSVR system.

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