The million dollar program, which is believed to be the country’s first, features VR headsets and video-game-style controls that teens can use to avoid potentially dangerous encounters, police said at a press conference.
Organizations such as schools, churches and other youth groups can use the software. The NYPD is using virtual reality to help teenagers deal with real life on the street.
Aided by $500,000 from the nonprofit New York City Police Foundation, the New York City police are putting youngsters through computer simulations — complete with virtual-reality goggles and using real-life scenarios — to help them de-escalate gang confrontations.
The virtual Reality game is known as “Options,” the program puts groups of 10 to 15 teens that the police invite in through a three-day curriculum so they can gain emotional intelligence to de-escalate situations when they are confronted by gang members in their neighborhoods.
In one virtual scenario, a gang confronts the player in a park and asks him or her to join their crew. The player can choose to stay, go or talk to the troublemakers.
The so-called Options program encourages “emotional intelligence” and “deescalation” in a medium that teens can relate to, officials said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill says “It’s the nexus of community engagement, cutting-edge technology and creative problem-solving,” said
Other real-life-style situations players will encounter include being stopped by police or being asked to commit a crime.
The police feel that public safety is a shared responsibility, and it’s crucial that the voice of our city’s youth is included in neighborhood policing.
The game was developed by Street Smarts VR, which also makes police training systems. It not clear when the game will be available.