Can technology advance de-escalation training and improve outcomes between police and communities?

The Project

Trainer is a virtual reality (VR) platform from Jigsaw for adaptive scenario-based training. It combines recent advances in voice recognition, natural language processing, and VR to create an immersive, realistic environment for law enforcement instructors to train and evaluate officer performance in de-escalation and communication skills. The technologies we developed support dynamic and believable training environments that have to date, focused on measuring and improving the conversational realism, VR realism, and tactile usability of VR scenarios.

Throughout the project we collaborated with academic researchers, technologists and subject matter experts across law enforcement and civil rights organizations to inform our approach.


In this next stage of work, we are transferring the Trainer technology to partners at four universities who each have diverse experience conducting research with and about law enforcement.

This coalition will take the research forward with goals that include measuring Trainer’s efficacy, identifying contexts for effective deployment and contributing to the broader body of knowledge around policing. Our hope is that the Trainer technology can contribute alongside the many other important projects and initiatives that aim to keep communities safer.

The University of Cincinnati’s Center for Police Research and Policy will test the viability of the Trainer technology across various officer demographics (e.g., race, sex, age, experience, assignment, etc.) and police agencies, and measure the impact on improving officers’ confidence and self-reported use of de-escalation tactics and skills in the field. Data will inform improvements to Trainer, and assess what existing training programs would best pair with the technology.

The University of Maryland's Lab for Applied Social Science Research will use Trainer to accelerate and expand its work on understanding disparities in policing outcomes by focusing on what virtual scenarios can teach us about bias in policing. Research will measure physiological inputs and track the relationship between police officers’ emotions, attitudes, identities, and officers’ behavior during interactions with the public with the goal of creating more equitable encounters with law enforcement.

At Georgetown Law, the Center for Innovations in Community Safety's Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) project will draw upon Trainer technology in its work to build a police culture of active bystandership that prevents misconduct and mistakes and promotes officer wellness. Georgetown University will integrate Trainer technology to provide ABLE participants with a broader range of virtual interactive training scenarios and provide Georgetown and independent researchers a controlled setting for studying the impact of ABLE training on reducing policing harm.

The Culturally Relevant Computing Lab and National Training Institute on Race & Equity (NTIRE) at Morehouse College will study the impact of this technological training on law enforcement and community empathy, seeking to understand whether a similar training simulation could be designed to build positive relationships with Black adolescents and local officers. NTIRE will offer students of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) opportunities to serve as co-facilitators in anti-bias trainings of police officers and as research assistants on projects designed to mitigate implicit and explicit bias in the criminal justice system.