Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $685,731)
The Rutherford County TN Sheriff’s Office proposes to implement a Virtual Reality De-Escalation Training Project. The purpose is to adopt a fully immersive, multi-participant, customizable virtual reality technology that will engage with multiple users in virtual scenarios with after action reviews. The training is designed to improve outcomes of the department in de-escalating situations with persons in crisis in Rutherford County and Middle Tn Area. Project activities include purchasing APEX Officer Virtual Reality Training system, partnering with Middle Tennessee State University to provide evidence-based course content and scenarios, establishing a community based feedback committee to gain insight in developing VR scenarios and provide regular evaluation of new training. The program also plans to increase community engagement and trust by including individuals with lived experience, behavioral health providers and advocates for people with disabilities (physical and cognitive) to develop and assess curriculum and VR scenarios. Expected outcomes include improved training and to practice skills learned to better respond to crisis situations, reduced use of force and improved community trust. Better trained officers and the increased safety of community members in a mental health or co-occurring crisis are the intended beneficiaries of the project. Subrecipient activities include developing VR scenarios, including evidence-based course content and scenarios, process evaluations and produce/publish an outcome study utilizing a randomized control trial to measure outcomes.