Virtual reality to be used to boost training of Home Team officers

Ground response force officer using a new mobile classroom.ST VIDEO: SEOW BEI YI
Police officers demonstrating simulation training on omni-directional treadmills with head-mounted displays which enable the users to move around in a virtual world in the Bedok Police Division on June 12, 2017.
Police officers demonstrating simulation training on omni-directional treadmills with head-mounted displays which enable the users to move around in a virtual world in the Bedok Police Division on June 12, 2017.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - It may resemble a regular lorry but at the push of a button, the Home Team Academy's new mobile classroom (MobiC) open up to occupy three carpark lots, ready to train frontline officers using virtual reality at any neighbourhood police centre.

Set to go on trial from September, it is among the initiatives announced by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at the academy's workplan seminar on Tuesday (June 13).

Mr Shanmugam stressed the need for effective training in the light of today's challenges - where officers face a pressing terror threat, increasing public expectations, and growing manpower constraints.

"Our training has got to deal with that, and prepare our officers for that," he said noting the current security climate worldwide.

"It must be realistic...When they are faced with a real situation... their reflexes kick in."

In one of the MobiC's seven virtual scenarios, two police officers spot a suspicious man at a Housing Board block's coffee shop. When they ask him to stay put, he tries to run, before turning around to point a gun at them. One of the officer fires his gun and the man falls, as the other calls for back-up.

The scenarios help to train officers on their response, judgment, and use of force on the ground, said Mr Shanmugam.

The MobiC, which can train 16 officers in 40 minutes, is set to be on trial at all six police land divisions for half a year. It can be driven to the different police stations, minimising officers' operational downtime.

The Home Team Academy will also roll out a Home Team Simulation System by next year (2018).

This virtual command post will train commanders including testing their decision-making skills, added Mr Shanmugam.

Of the Home Team Training Transformation 2025, chief executive of Home Team Academy T. Raja Kumar said that building a strong foundation for joint and integrated operations is a key focus as well.

"The scenarios are customisable, so if this proof of concept is well-received by the officers, we will work with the respective agencies to see what best fits them," said Superintendent Tan Chi Chong, who is assistant director of the frontline policing division.

Among other initiatives announced on Tuesday are a mobile app for officers to access training materials on the go and a Specialist Certificate programme for full-time Home Team trainers starting in July.