CHICAGO - It's nicknamed the MILO Range — short for "Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives" — a 3D training simulator used by Illinois State Police, so officers can put themselves in high-stress situations.
ISP is expanding access to the simulator this year, allowing local law enforcement departments to take advantage of it.
"I think the biggest takeaway is giving our recruits, cadets and troopers the opportunity to experience real life situations without actually having to be in that actual situation," said Trooper Joshua Williams, who helps lead the training.
MILO's simulations range from convenience store robberies in progress, to dealing with unruly passengers on buses, to handling traffic stops and domestic situations — which can go in any number of different directions.
Trainers can choose from scenarios that involve armed or unarmed suspects, and situations that either escalate, or can be deescalated.
"It's our job to help someone deescalate, but cannot force them to. And that's where this training is very useful," said Williams.
Officers are equipped with virtual versions of the same tools they have in the field: pepper spray, tasers, firearms, and of course, their mouths.
"Our biggest weapon is our mouth," said Lt. Chris Jones, who leads and designs the simulations. "Our communication techniques that we utilize. If we can enhance those, that will help the deescalation of an incident, that's what we'd prefer. This gives troopers the opportunity to be able to utilize those verbal skills to deescalate the incident."
The Illinois State Police Department is making this simulator available to other law enforcement agencies. So far, 19 other departments have taken advantage, placing a total of 78 officers through the eight-hour training.