The New York Police Department is looking at a report that recommends it implement modern videogame technology in its training programs in the wake of the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in November 2006.
The Rand Corporation, a non-profit think tank, was hired by the NYPD shortly after the shooting to study the department's firearms training programs, as well as how it investigates shootings. According to an article in Newsday, reported by GamePolitics, the report's recommendations include equipping police officers with Tasers, as well as the purchase of updated simulation software to bolster training programs.
"[The NYPD's] current simulators are very good, but it's pretty old techology," said Rand Senior Fellow Bernard Rostker. Currently, police train at the Rodman's Neck Firing Range in the Bronx, a facility that includes a mock village and features computer-generated armed suspects. The Rand Corp. says the system is limited by both a small number of exercises as well as the short amount of time officers have to perform them. Newer technology, on the other hand, would bring the training to the officers via laptop computers, and would allow officers to record their sessions for review at a later time.
Rostker said improvements in game technology could also have a significant impact on the value of the training by inserting more realistic and varied scenarios. "Gaming has gotten a bad reputation because they're all about shoot-em-ups," he said. "But maybe a better way of looking at it is to look at something like the NBA basketball programs. The quality of the figures is very real and the quality of the facial expressions is very real. If you can give a student a lot of scenarios, it changes the nature of the learning experience."