Virtual training for Chicago police puts officers in shoes of people with special needs

Chicago police have a brand new training tool that shows them how to deal with people with special needs or mental illness, by putting the officers in their shoes.

To do that, officers put on a virtual reality headset. They can see and hear what it’s like for someone suffering from autism or schizophrenia.

They also can make choices on how police should respond. This VR training is a pilot program for Chicago police. The goal is to better understand how to handle someone in a mental illness crisis so the situation doesn’t escalate to violence.

“It gives you the first person experience of what they're going through so I think it would allow officers to be a little more empathetic to individuals when they go on those calls,” said Joaquin Rodgers, Chicago police.  

“When I went through the scenario, it gave you choices and that person in a mental health crisis, he responded to the choices that you made and I tell you, that's cutting edge stuff,” said Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

The Chicago Police Department is the first in the country to use this VR training. Supt. Johnson hopes to be a pioneer for departments across the country.