MASSENA, N.Y. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations, hosted area media for a demonstration of the new Virtual Training simulator system on June 29. The system consists of a series of projection screens that circle around a small stage. Images are projected on the screens depicting fast-paced events involving active shooters or situations involving confrontations and standoffs. Officers enter the simulator with a full range of inert weapons, including pistols and rifles that fire electronic pulses.
Local news media were briefed on CBP’s use-of-force policy and shown the duty weapons used by frontline officers: the H&K P2000 pistol, Colt M-4 semi-automatic rifle and Remington Model 870 12-gauge shotgun. A live demonstration of the Virtual Training simulator by two CBP officers quickly followed.
Reporters were then offered the chance to participate using various inert versions of the weapons, and apply use-of-force principles in several rapidly-moving, deadly force situations. Each participant left the session with a better understanding of the real life scenarios officers can face without warning.
"Our officers have to think quickly. They have to exercise their hand-eye coordination and they have to engage that threat,” said Area Port Director Timothy Walker. “Whether that threat is a deadly force situation or not, we don't know because we have different scenarios that we can run with the simulator. It is a truly a breakthrough in training technology."
Since the $230,000 simulator was installed a year ago, CBP officers from Alexandria Bay, Ogdensburg, Massena and Trout River Ports of Entry have used the VirTra simulator to enhance firearms and less-than-lethal qualifications. The system has served CBP as an effective outreach tool.
"Over this past year we’ve had Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, New York State Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Akwesasne Police, and the Jefferson County Sheriffs K-9 unit use the simulator”, said Massena Port Director Robert Dwyer. “What a great way to make connections with our local partners in law enforcement."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.