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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — A $1 million grant that the late Senator Scott Bennett helped secure is going to help police training in Danville.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity gave the city money, in part, to build a new high-tech training center. Police will use space in the Public Works building for the center, and it will include state-of-the-art virtual reality.
Danville Mayor Rickey Williams said this technology is “Oculus on steroids,” giving officers hyper-realistic practice for different scenarios. For instance, an officer wearing a virtual reality headset would be able to see all aspects of an environment, even the undercarriages of cars in an active shooter situation.
Williams added this new space at the Public Works building will also save police from having to travel outside of the community for training.
“By not paying another institution, not paying for the mileage, the travel, the per diem that we have to pay to send someone somewhere else,” Williams said.
The new space will also give the community a place to hold their own training. Every year, the city holds a citizen police academy for adults and junior police academy for kids. Those programs will use the space along with other organizations in the area.
“A domestic violence group that works together with our police department to try to work on decreasing domestic violence in our community, we hope that they’ll meet there as well as other community outreach,” Williams said.
Some other uses for the virtual training could include mental health crises and traffic stops.
Williams added that a big reason why they looked into a new training center is to help smaller police departments that lended a helping hand to the city in the past.
“To have their officers train here as well, small departments where they don’t have as many resources, they come in and help us whenever we have major events,” Williams said. “So we thought having a local training center might be a way for us to help them, too.”
The city has already begun preparing the training center and it should be complete by the spring.