The University of Maryland and Jigsaw, a unit within Google, announced a partnership to create virtual reality training aimed at improving police de-escalation and communication across the United States.
The partnership was born out of Jigsaw’s “Trainer” platform, which aims to use technology to improve the interactions between police and the communities they serve. Trainer provides its partners with improved virtual reality technology and systems to help their partners conduct research to better understand how officer training can be improved.
Rashawn Ray, a sociology professor and executive director of this university’s Lab for Applied Social Science Research, said that this university was chosen as a partner because of its prowess in the field of criminal justice and policing research, along with the University of Cincinnati, Georgetown University Law Center and Morehouse College.
As a partner, the lab can continue its research with better equipment and more collaboration across different departments and the other participating schools.
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“[Trainer] gives us the opportunity to collaborate more broadly, and bring more people in,” Ray said. “We’re moving at it in a very, very big way.”
The research team ultimately wants police departments to use virtual reality regularly in their training. This would be less expensive for police departments, add a more evaluative…