Craven CC, City of New Bern to debut Law Enforcement Training Center

VirTra System
Craven Community College has collaborated with the City of New Bern to provide local law enforcement agencies with a new Law Enforcement Simulator Training program, which will utilize a state-of-the-art training simulator that uses real-life scenarios. (Photo courtesy of VirTra).

March 9, 2021

Craven Community College (Craven CC) and the City of New Bern will celebrate the opening of the college’s new Law Enforcement Training (LET) center on March 9. The newly renovated building will be the site of Craven CC’s newest program, Law Enforcement Simulator Training, which will provide unique training opportunities for local law enforcement officers and visiting agencies from around the region.

The new facility was recently outfitted with a virtual training simulator called the VirTra System in mid-February. Its capabilities include using real-life imagery and scenarios to test law enforcement officers’ responses and their ability to de-escalate tense situations. It utilizes five screens at 300 degrees to provide officers with interactive situations and videos, and a specialized system will allow program operators to create customized scenarios using imagery of Craven County. Operators will also have the ability to interject different responses based on participating officers’ directions.

“They will be able to practice real-life scenarios that they may not encounter very often,” said Sandra McKenzie, director of service programs. “After each officer goes through the simulator training, they will be debriefed by an instructor. This instructor will focus on the areas that the officer did well and where they might need some improvements.”

Simulations will assist officers with de-escalation and use-of-force training, and the program will follow a nationally certified training curriculum to ensure officers stay updated and receive the highest quality of instruction. Training scenarios cover a wide variety of circumstances ranging from mental illness to property alarms.

The project came to life as part of the ongoing Volt Center project, a partnership between the City of New Bern and Craven CC. The City agreed to provide the building and renovations, and the college agreed to lease the simulator and rent the facility. Construction began last September and totaled about $242,000. Donations for this project included $50,000 each from the Craven CC Foundation, CarolinaEast Health System and the Harold H. Bate Foundation.

There will be a ribbon cutting event on March 9 from 2 – 3 p.m. to include special guests Craven CC President Dr. Ray Staats and New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw. The LET center is located on the college’s Volt Center campus at 116 Rhem Street, New Bern.

Law enforcement agencies interested in training at the LET center can contact Mickey Tillman at 252-638-7353.