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The U.S. is tightening its bonds with Costa Rica. The Department of State has donated six virtual shooting ranges to the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security. The technology will contribute to the training and professional development of various public security bodies for improvement of their emergency response capability. The donation is valued at close to $800,000 and was made by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs through the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

The new equipment was presented to Costa Rica at a ceremony at the National Police Academy in San José. The gathering was attended by Costa Rican Minister of Public Security, Gustavo Mata, and the then U.S. ambassador, Stafford Fitzgerald Haney.

“We will soon begin officially training the first units,” Commissioner Erick Lacayo Rojas, the director of the Costa Rican National Police Academy, told “This virtual system will improve our systems for officer education, training, and specialization,” he said. “We don’t intend for this to replace firearms practice. Nevertheless, the technology will help improve the instruction of officers in stressful and delicate situations.”

Each virtual simulator includes software and three screens that recreate various 180-degree scenarios. It allows for the inclusion of outdoor conditions such as lighting, wind and weather. The personnel doing the security work will put operational protocols into practice, and reinforce their legal knowledge as well as their knowledge on the use of force and of human rights, which is required when using tools employed by police and military agencies throughout the world.

“This type of technology will give them the opportunity to not only fire at different distances but also know when they don’t have to fire,” Minister Mata stated. “Using a firearm is indispensable for a police officer.”

The simulation systems will provide the instructor with a detailed report on the performance of the police officer, including the number of shots fired and response time. Each trainee will also learn how they react when confronted with a dangerous situation or a criminal act.

The U.S. government support will also include training on the use of the virtual shooting ranges for 10 representatives from each of the police departments.

The V-180 simulator is more valuable for training than a firearms simulator with only one screen. The realistic training platform produces better decision-making in life-or-death situations, saving the lives of civilians and officers, according to information from Virtra, the company responsible for maintaining the shooting ranges.

“We should use the tool in a logical manner. It’s not just about coming to the shooting range and firing”, Commissioner Lacayo stated. “Trainees must go through an academic and practical training process. The more training the better the teacher,” Álvarez added.

In addition to the six virtual shooting ranges, other equipment is scheduled to come from the U.S. The equipment that will arrive in November includes two large vessels, two Sky Troop airplanes, three helicopters and three tactical vehicles. “All this equipment will improve the skills, capacities, and the professionalism of our officers who look after the security of this country, day in and day out,” concluded Minister Mata.