This fall, a Criminal Justice and Criminology (CJC) immersive learning capstone course used MILO virtual training software to construct various scenarios specific to Ball State University to train University police officers. The MILO Training Simulator allows trainees to choose their reactions to various scenarios. These training scenarios will allow UPD to better train for and react to the unique situations policing college campuses presents to them.
The idea for the capstone began when students in associate professor Dr. Indigo Koslicki’s CJC 333 (Policing in a Free and Diverse Society) class observed that current police training simulations in the MILO system seemed inadequate for the demands of university police departments, such as UPD. Current police training software is targeted toward the training needs of municipal departments and neglects more specific scenarios where campus officers may find themselves.
Dr. Koslicki created an immersive learning class to identify ways to remedy this gap in the police training curriculum. The class familiarized itself with the MILO software and its use by campus police, then created a survey for campus police to analyze their experience with the simulation and determine ways it could be improved.
Upon analyzing the data, students found that officers frequently responded to mental health calls, domestic violence, crowd control, theft situations, and traffic stops. Many of these do not receive adequate coverage in the MILO simulation, especially crowd control situations. To remedy this issue, the class created new scenarios to be included in the MILO simulation. These included a student stealing a bike, crowd control at a fraternity party, a mental health crisis in a dorm room, and a traffic stop. Capstone students acted in these scenarios, and the Digital Corps assisted in filming them.
Officers training in the simulation are given a laser pistol and taser to be used on the virtual subjects at their discretion. They can interact with the simulation through several realistic preset courses of action. The system even has shoot-back capabilities using rubber bullets to further increase the reality of the simulation. UPD said the additions are useful to their training needs and help trainees talk and work through the scenarios. Capstone students expressed that this experience was valuable in showing them all the various situations that police interact with, how to improve de-escalation, and how to put themselves in a public safety mindset for future policing and criminal justice careers. Many have expressed that they feel proud to have been involved in a project with practical use and impact, and Dr. Koslicki plans to expand this capstone project in future offerings of the course.