Merced Police invest in virtual technology to train officers

Communication is such a valuable tool that one police department in the North Valley is making an investment with virtual technology.

Every day in Merced the city's police department is out protecting the public, making sure each situation with each officer stays in control.

Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin says the most valuable tool for his officers is communication and that's why he's investing in a new tool called Virtucom Solution.

"It helps us go to a situation that I might not know what it is. It allows us to slow the situation down with our communication, to calm it down, to de-escalate that situation so we can make a plan," said Chief Goodwin.

This virtual computer program puts each officer in a real-life situation inside a training room.

The idea behind the program is to help police de-escalate a situation with communication and have a better recognition of a person suffering from mental health.

"They might ask the question, are you under the care of a doctor and then that will take them a different direction in the scenario as opposed to escalating the situation because we used a buzz word to get some excited," said Chief Goodwin.

Each officer will go through three sessions where they respond to a situation with a person on video.

Based on the officer's verbal response an instructor will play one of fifth-teen different scenarios.

One officer says communication may be her biggest weapon because her size might be a disadvantage.

"So if I am able to relate to someone on a verbal level rather than having to go hands-on with them, I prefer to do that. Having something like this keeps me safe and lets me practice my communication skills," said Officer Alicia Gorman.
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