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Get more bang for your training buck with a simulation training subscription

VirTra now offers a monthly subscription program to provide customizable, realistic simulation training without a large capital investment


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Sponsored by VirTra

At the end of 2018, PoliceOne issued its annual list of trends and predictions for the year ahead, including a forecast of a coming funding crunch for law enforcement agencies that will put extreme pressure on operational effectiveness.

That article quotes Jim Bueermann, a retired police chief and former National Police Federation president, warning that police agencies will begin to feel the effects of a coming global recession in the latter half of 2019, which will kick off a noticeable reduction in personnel in many law enforcement agencies and force the re-examination of basic service delivery models.

VirTra has developed a subscription approach to make simulation training technology affordable for more departments. The Subscription Training & Equipment Partnership, or STEP program, includes access to multi-screen training simulators, courseware and development tools. (image/VirTra)
VirTra has developed a subscription approach to make simulation training technology affordable for more departments. The Subscription Training & Equipment Partnership, or STEP program, includes access to multi-screen training simulators, courseware and development tools. (image/VirTra)

In other words, law enforcement will once again be asked to do even more for less budget, and department leaders may be tempted to economize in non-public facing areas, such as officer training. However, skimping on training increases the risk of negative outcomes that damage confidence and open the door to costly lawsuits. Consequently, legislators may then feel pressure to pull back on the budgetary reins even harder, cutting off funds for capital equipment purchases necessary to make policing safer for officers and the community.

Custom Subscription Training

In response to these challenges, VirTra developed a subscription approach to help bring essential training technology within reach for more departments, even those facing reductions in capital expense budgets. The Subscription Training & Equipment Partnership, or STEP program, enables departments of all sizes to benefit from VirTra’s training solutions, including multi-screen training simulators, courseware and development tools.

The program offers the option to engage through a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription basis rather than an up-front outlay. That enables departments to move long-term investments in officer training from capital expenses (that require administrative and legislative approval) to a single payment that’s just a line item in the operational budget.

Converting capital expenses to operating costs through a monthly subscription is the basis of the cloud computing revolution that has transformed the information technology industry. Tech companies refer to this as Software as a Service, or SaaS model, and this approach has made computing power available to smaller businesses by eliminating the need to invest in costly data centers.

VirTra applied this approach, dubbed “Training Solution as a Service (TSaaS),” to help law enforcement agencies that need but may not be able to afford the advanced, immersive training that simulators deliver. Budgeting for a training service instead of a capital purchase solves the funding problem for many agencies.

“The STEP program provides agencies an immediate path to train with the industry’s best, at an affordable price point and without the uncertainties that a large capital purchase decision can induce,” said Jason Mulcahy, VirTra general manager. “We’ve already begun providing STEP to eager customers, and the initial reaction is extremely positive. We expect to continue to see positive reviews and benefits as we ramp up the new program.”

Choose your own adventure 

The STEP program offers a customizable solution that allows an agency to select a combination of equipment, software training solutions, certified coursework and tools that best fit its training needs and budget. Available options include:

  • V-VICTA interactive coursework (nationally certified coursework accompanies the scenarios for CE credit hours).
  • Immersive training simulators, such as V-300, V-180, V-ST or portable single-screen V-100.
  • Hundreds of branching training scenarios, skill drills and courses of fire.
  • V-Marksmanship, which provides ballistically accurate advanced skill drills training.
  • Realistic drop-in recoil kits for the most widely used firearms.
  • The stress inducing Threat-Fire training tool to simulate return fire.
  • V-Author, VirTra’s exclusive software tool that allows customers to edit, create or author training scenarios from scratch with their own characters or scenery.
  • TASER, OC spray and low-light training support for safe training any time of day.

Previously, departments needed to procure hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement these capabilities. That meant going up the chain of command, seeking legislative authorization, applying for grants and spending valuable time and resources jumping through hoops to bring necessary safety and training improvements in de-escalation and use-of-force measures.

Even authorities who recognize the need and value of an officer training program may balk at the price tag for a suite of new equipment and instead choose a subpar option that doesn’t train officers properly. But with the subscription option, departments can select the elements that best fit their needs and budgets.

“The STEP program allows departments to rent the VirTra system on an annual basis, which is perfect for government entities due to our yearly budget cycles,” said Captain Jody Hayes of the West Des Moines Iowa Police Department. “We never know exactly what our budget lines will be from year to year, so it’s very difficult to commit to multi-year or large-scale purchases.”

Hayes says purchasing a system outright wasn’t the best solution for West Des Moines because technology is improving so quickly, and the department did not want to risk getting locked into an antiquated system that would end up incurring further costs to maintain and update.

The STEP program includes a lifetime warranty and service for the product, as well as providing the replacement equipment and the newest technology as an agency renews its contract.

“Since they own it, they service it and update it,” said Hayes. “It’s not your worry.”

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