How Police Departments Use VR for Implicit Bias Training

Police Departments around the country are using VR for implicit bias training.

In recent years, police departments around the country have been looking for ways to address implicit bias within their ranks. One approach that is gaining traction is the use of virtual reality (VR) for implicit bias training.

Implicit bias refers to the unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that can affect our behavior and decisions. In the context of policing, implicit bias can manifest in a number of ways, such as:

  • racial profiling
  • use of force
  • or unequal treatment of certain groups of people.

Additionally, the National Institute of Health defines implicit bias as a form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors. Research has shown implicit bias can pose a barrier to recruiting and retaining a diverse scientific workforce.

VR can be a powerful tool for addressing implicit bias in policing because it allows officers to experience and reflect on simulations of real-world scenarios that may elicit bias. These simulations can include scenarios where officers are faced with situations that could elicit an implicit bias, such as a routine traffic stop or responding to a call for service.

Implicit Bias Training Simulator

One example of a VR program that has been used for implicit bias training is the Apex Officer Implicit Bias Training Simulator. The Apex Officer simulator uses virtual human characters to simulate scenarios such as traffic stops and calls for service, and tracks officers' decisions and actions in response to the scenario.

Apex Officer's implicit bias training simulator has been adopted by several police departments in the United States and has been found to be an effective way to raise awareness of implicit bias among officers and to help them identify and address their own biases.

Another example is how the Apex Officer system places officers in virtual environments that simulate real-world interactions with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and provides them with feedback on their decisions and actions.

Why VR is a Good Tool for Implicit Bias Training

In addition to providing a safe and controlled environment for training, VR can also provide a more immersive and realistic experience than traditional training methods. This can lead to more effective training and better retention of the material covered in the training.

It's worth noting that the VR technology for implicit bias training is still in its early stages, and studies are needed to understand its effectiveness in the long run, and its potential unintended consequences. However, many experts agree that VR is a valuable tool for addressing implicit bias within policing, and that it has the potential to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

What is the Goal of Implicit Bias Training?

The goal of implicit bias training is to educate individuals about the unconscious biases they may hold and to provide them with strategies for recognizing and addressing those biases in their thoughts and actions. The training aims to reduce the negative impact of implicit biases on decision-making and behavior in order to create a more equitable and inclusive environment.

What Does Implicit Bias Training Consist of?

Implicit bias training typically consists of a combination of education and exercises designed to raise awareness of the existence of implicit biases and their potential effects. It may include activities such as:

  1. Lectures or presentations on the psychology of bias and its impact on decision-making and behavior.
  2. Self-reflection exercises and assessments to help individuals identify their own biases and understand how they might influence their thoughts and actions.
  3. Role-playing or scenario-based exercises to practice recognizing and addressing biases in simulated situations.
  4. Discussions or group activities to promote dialogue and understanding among diverse groups of people.
  5. Case studies or real-life examples to illustrate the impact of bias in different contexts.
  6. Specific strategies and tools for reducing the impact of bias in decision-making and behavior.


In conclusion, using virtual reality in implicit bias training can provide a safe and controlled environment where officers can experience real-world scenarios that may elicit bias and practice strategies to address those biases. It can also provide a more immersive and realistic experience that may lead to better retention of the material covered in the training. As VR technology continue to advance, it is likely that we will see more widespread adoption of VR for implicit bias training in the future.

About the Author

Carey Rhodes
Marketing Manager

Marketing Manger at Apex Officer