CSPD Cops won’t use virtual reality training after all

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Officers of the Colorado Springs Police Department won’t use virtual reality to train for encounters with the public after all.

The Indy reported last summer the city had posted a request for proposals (RFP) for a VR training program for de-escalation measures.

But now, that program is out the window.

“We are not going to award a contract from this solicitation,” Alyssa Mendelsohn in the city’s procurement office tells the Indy via email. “We are currently working with the Grant funding agency to revise the scope and develop an alternate training program.”

The training is to be funded by the Department of Justice Community Orientated Policing Services (COPS) Office, she says.

Mendelsohn reports that CSPD’s grant manager is reviewing options with the COPS office “to determine the best options for rescoping this project.”

The grant manager is Mark Smith, who says in an email, “We’re still putting together the details of our scope change request, but it will likely not involve VR.

“Instead,” he adds, “it will probably be some type of in-person, de-escalation scenario training based on the Police Executive Research Forum’s Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) curriculum. CSPD officers underwent initial ICAT training in 2021, and this would be a continuation of that training. The training would be facilitated by CSPD trainers in conjunction with an outside vendor(s).”

That approach, however, would be subject to approval by the COPS Office, which had designated $200,000 for the training program.

The original concept would have allowed officers to “experience real-world training through virtual environments” several times a week, according to the RFP posting.

The training, however it’s carried out, is supposed to address a key finding in the Assessment of Colorado Springs Police Department Use of Force study produced by Transparency Matters consulting group and presented to the community last April.

The study concluded that resistance shown to officers “is one of the biggest indicators of use of force,” consultant Robin Engel, one of the researchers, told City Council during a June 20 briefing on the study.

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