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NJ First Responders Use Virtual Reality Facility To Train For Active Shooter Situations

FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A first of its kind facility in New Jersey takes first responder training to the next level – beyond reality and into the unknown.

Stepping inside the situational and response simulator, an officer responds to a noise complaint. It escalates quickly and the officer must react, CBS2's Meg Baker reports.

"As a member of law enforcement, we can only hope that we will never have to shoot a suspect. But we must train in preparation to provide for a successful outcome when making a split second decision to use lethal force," Spring Lake Police Chief Edward Kerr said.

During training, officers wear a zapper to simulate what it's like to be hit. The idea is to make the encounter as real as possible.

"Learn and make mistakes in the simulator, instead of making them on the streets," Kerr said.

The new Monmouth County high-tech facility and $275,000 virtual reality room is the first of its kind in New Jersey.

"Fighting crime has taken a new toll and challenge for law enforcement in the recent years. We constantly have to deal with threats, and threat assessment, and de-escalation of crisis," Sheriff Shaun Golden said.

Police, fire, EMS and other first responders can run exercises on active shooter incidents, like one demonstration in a cafeteria setting and a SWAT team response inside a school. Outside, K9 officers can run through an agility course.

"The minute we think we have it figured out is the minute we ought to check our badge and gun and find other employment. It's our job to be innovative and on the tip of the sphere," Monmouth County prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.

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