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SCC Implements New Virtual Reality Training Simulator

Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) students at Sandhills Community College will learn how to more effectively respond to an active shooter, domestic violence, and other high-stress situations through a newly installed virtual training system. Described as “close to real-life as you can get,” The VirTra┬« simulator contains five large screens for a 300-degree immersive training environment.

Projected actual scenarios give trainees the feel of being on the scene of a traffic stop, a domestic event, or other environments. Based on the actions taken by the police officer in real-time, student outcomes are measured. The immersive environment recreates phycological stressors like an elevated heart rate and high adrenaline levels that officers experience during intense situations. In addition, the system provides training in de-escalation, use of force, dealing with mentally ill or disabled people, and communication skills.

Because of the demands on law enforcement to make critical decisions in tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situations, this training methodology is far above other training. As a result, it is of superior film quality and contains the full fidelity of real actors. The realism is further increased as scenarios unfold based on decisions made by the trainee or instructor.

“This new technology could not have come at a better time,” said SCC’s Director of BLET, Robert Kehoe. “We are now seeing increased salaries and sign-on bonuses throughout the law enforcement profession.” For example, according to a 2021 article from the Hoke County News-Journal, Hoke County increased deputy salaries by nearly 15%.

“As far as our BLET program, Kehoe says, “we have, by far, the best instructors I’ve ever worked with. Our instructors are either retired or active-duty law enforcement professionals who offer a wealth of knowledge, many of them with 14+ years in the field. As a result, our students are taught the essential skills required for entry-level employment as law enforcement officers with a state, county, municipal agency, or private sector.”

Law enforcement might be a perfect fit for those seeking a challenging and pride-evoking career. Kehoe says, “We have trainees pursuing law enforcement as an initial career, students who are changing careers. For example, many of our students have recently retired from the military and seek a public safety job.”

The next BLET session will begin in August and meet from 8 am until 5 pm Monday through Friday and scheduled Saturdays and will be taught on the Pinehurst campus. There is no cost to take the class, the State of North Carolina will pay tuition. There will be out-of-pocket expenses for textbooks and uniforms, but the college may have resources to assist students with such costs. All trainees must be 20 years of age at course completion. Applicants who are 19 years old may be accepted with a waiver.

Registration packets are now being accepted. Contact Robert Kehoe at (910) 693-2666 or kehoer@sandhills.edu or Mary Lou Coffey at (910) 693-2667 or coffeym@sandhills.edu.

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