NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The New London Police Department is the first in Connecticut to use the virtual reality APEX Officer training system, allowing officers to immerse themselves in confrontational situations in a safe space.

Officers wear headgear and carry simulated weapons, which are the same weight as the real ones, and they come face-to-face with people who may have mental health issues or become combative.

As part of the police accountability law, officers are tasked with de-escalating situations before using physical or deadly force. The training allows them to try to do so in a virtual reality situation, so they are better prepared for a real one.

“This system is designed for de-escalation, which is basically just using interpersonal skills, environmental skills,” New London Police Sgt. Matt Cassiere said. “Even just your body language to try to bring somebody down, and the ultimate goal is to gain voluntary compliance with somebody.”

In the scenario used by New London police on Wednesday, the officers respond to a potential domestic violence call after neighbors see a man pushing a woman around.

“I’m having a conversation with my wife,” said the suspect in this simulated scenario. Officer David Diogo provides the voice of the suspect who is not cooperating. “You guys don’t have to be here.”

“You can have that conversation after we have a conversation and then we can sort it out,” answered Officer Stuckey.

This virtual reality system which usually costs about $95,000 was bought for a discounted $65,000 using a U.S. Department of Justice COPS grant. The system allows officers to be immersed in potentially confrontational situations in a safe space.

“This just gives you a little bit of extra practice on what to say, what not to say, how and in a safe environment,” said Officer Stuckey.

The New London Police Department has had this training system for about six months now, and eventually, other departments will be able to come in and go through these scenarios as well.