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New London Police Department extends public outreach efforts with new initiatives

New London Police Officers using virtual reality headsets and imitation weapons during a simulator exercise.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
New London police officers using virtual reality headsets and imitation weapons during a simulator exercise

The New London Police Department in Connecticut is extending its public outreach efforts with two new initiatives.

It’s become the first police department in the state to purchase an APEX officer virtual reality training simulator.

David Diogo is a training officer with the police department and said not only will the system improve police training, but they are also inviting the public to come and try the simulator out as well to better understand what officers face on a daily basis.

New London Police Officers wearing the APEX Officer virtual reality headset and back pack.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
New London police officers wearing the APEX Officer virtual reality headset and back pack

“If we get them to focus on why we don’t have time, well you know it can make the difference whether somebody comes home or not," Diogo said. "It’s a lot of pressure on one particular person and that’s just work and then you add in their personal life, their home life and all that other stuff, things going on at home. So, it takes a toll on one individual human being, and we want the community to understand that, we’re just as human as everybody else, we just have a job to do.”

The training simulator can create any type of environment from an active shooter scenario to a mental health call.

The other initiative is a 10-week Youth Citizen’s Police Academy program for 13 to 17-year-olds, giving them the opportunity to learn firsthand what it takes to be a New London police officer.

Christina Nocito is one of two community resource officers with the department and said this age group is at a point where they’re starting to make decisions about their future and what they want to be.

“When they get to those teen years they have to make more, you know, life decisions," Nocito said. "This will hopefully give them more information and be more informed of how that process works and what it is we actually do. You know and be able to interact with their friends about it. Being in junior high or high school that’s those times where they can be more influenced by friends and adults. So, hopefully we can be that positive influence in their lives.”

The 10-week program will cover all aspects of police work and all attendees need their parents or guardians’ permission to take part.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.