We conducted an experimental evaluation of virtual training experiences (VTE) for law-enforcement training during an international policing conference (American Society of Evidence Based Policing).
Among the volunteers (N = 77), 30% were female and 70% males with 49% employed in law enforcement and 51% in other occupations. Participants were outfitted with a controller gun, holster, and a virtual-reality headset. Each of four scenarios used involved a call for service reporting the presence of an unknown man acting strangely, with random assignment to one of four conditions: priming message (yes, no) and instrument held by suspect (gun, cellphone). Results show no significant effect of dispatch priming on participants’ responses but do show that law-enforcement officers made more accurate decisions than did non-law-enforcement participants. The feasibility and potential usefulness of VTE as a training tool is discussed along with recommendations for future policing studies involving VR. (Publisher abstract provided)