GOLDEN, Colo. (KDVR) — FOX31 is getting a first look at a new way Colorado State Patrol is training cadets to save lives in all kinds of situations.

At the CSP training academy in Golden, things are looking a little different lately. 

“We have actually been training in this building here since 1935,” CSP Capt. Rocco Domenico said, adding, “What they were going through back in the ’30s and what we’re going through today is night and day.”

Domenico showed FOX31 a new system CSP purchased a year ago: a virtual reality training system that the latest, large cadet class is getting the first opportunity to use.

“We can control the environment for them, to help them to make good, conscious, clear decisions as part of our training program,” Domenico said.

We want to see their control tactics,” Domenico added. “We want to see their officer presence, how they interact with the public. Are they asking for the correct information? Their officer safety, or are they making themselves in the community safe and the actions they’re doing? So this allows us to change all that.”

Police training in a virtual reality headset

Previously, CSP used volunteers to help role-play with cadets.

“There’s only so many actors and so many scenes that you can set up in real life,” CSP Master Trooper Alisha Danko said, “where with this, you can drop them into just about anything that the situation may call for. So it’s a great asset that we’ve added to our organization.”

Danko put the headset on, showing FOX31 some of the capabilities: multiple avatars immersed in the scene with her, altering the demeanor of the characters, adding and taking away things like weapons or phones, or changing their mannerisms in the turn of the moment.

“When they are in it, the one thing they can always rely upon, always, is their training. It will always be there with them,” Domenico said. “Their backup might be five, 10 minutes away. Their training is always with them.”

The VR trainings are recorded, so cadets can go through debriefings following their in-the-moment training and use the lessons again in the future.