Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $800,000)
The City of Hamtramck proposes to implement the Evidence Based Virtual Reality De-escalation Police Training for Diverse Communities project. Funding for the project would make use of emerging technologies to enhance law enforcement training to improve interaction outcomes for public safety officers and individuals in crisis. In partnership with Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies, the project would create an evidence-based curriculum, and develop a virtual reality (VR) training platform that would improve the public safety response to individuals in crisis, in an effort to ensure the safety of public safety officers and the civilians they come in contact with, who may be suffering from intellectual or developmental disabilities or in some form of mental health distress in the city of Hamtramck.The project has three phases: 1) Planning and development of training, 2) Implementation of training, and 3) Evaluation and dissemination. The proposed project aims to achieve goals outlined in evidence-based Crisis Response and Intervention Training (CRIT) with the philosophy focusing on officer safety, public safety, and diversion from the criminal justice system when possible. The proposed de-escalation training curriculum incorporates strategies and modules in the CRIT curriculum that is expected to expand officers’ knowledge and skills for handling individuals in crisis and seek to emphasize the de-escalation of a crisis situation by making use of VR simulation training. The project will include collaborative co-design and production by a diverse community of experts and stakeholders to build transformative customized VR training for frontline officers. Expected outcomes include fully-operated VR de-escalation training with built-in platform for collecting process and outcome evaluation data that include individual-level data with trainees’ attitudes and behavioral awareness, use of de-escalation techniques and interactions with individuals in crisis who experience mental health issues, with developmental disabilities and/or those with language barriers. Systematic-level data will track data including use of force and civilian and officer injuries. The program’s evaluation method will allow the program to assess the effectiveness of the training. The evaluation data will be analyzed and shared with the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Subrecipient activities include the development of a scenario-based VR training plan, developing a customized, fully immersive VR training platform, facilitating the implementation of VR training, and supporting the evaluation data collection and assessment of the training effectiveness. Upon completion, the proposed project has potential to improve safety outcomes for public safety officers and citizens in Michigan.