May ‘Out of the Blue’ spotlights virtual reality p...

May ‘Out of the Blue’ spotlights virtual reality police training grant [+VIDEO]

Out of the Blue May Stickle VR

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Criminal Justice Administration professor Ben Stickle talked about his recent grant to research and develop effective virtual reality technology for law enforcement de-escalation training in the May edition of “Out of the Blue,” the Middle Tennessee State University television magazine show.

Dr. Ben Stickle
Dr. Ben Stickle

“There’s not been a lot of research done using virtual reality as a training platform for policing, so this is really cutting edge,” said Stickle, who co-authored a Bureau of Justice Assistance grant for the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office that garnered $685,730.

The majority of the grant will go to the sheriff’s office to purchase equipment and fund a full-time officer to run the program. MTSU will receive a portion that will be used for research, development and training.

Stickle detailed how the virtual reality training could help law enforcement learn less-than-lethal de-escalation tactics with “Out of the Blue” host Andrew Oppmann, MTSU’s vice president for marketing and communications.

You can watch the segment below:

“We can drop an officer off into any situation,” Stickle explained, “from a problem in a jail cell to a school room to a person who is considering suicide.”

The officer controlling the virtual training will adapt the scenario based on the participant’s actions.

“We’re basically able to give live feedback,” said Stickle, who has written more than $1.4 million in grants for various organizations and research projects over the past eight years at MTSU.

The newly funded virtual reality program will offer 20- and 40-hour training blocks that Stickle will develop the programming and then study results to discern which length of training is the most efficient.

“We’re going to basically score the scenarios,” said Stickle, a professor in MTSU’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.

The goal of the training is to help officers master techniques to calm difficult situations, increase compliance of subjects and reduce use of force, Stickle explained.

“We’re really excited to get some of the training material written,” Stickle said, “and then hopefully have some curriculum and training programs we can roll out to not only local agencies but all across the country to say, ‘These are techniques and things we can do to actually reduce violence and get people to calm down and actually work with police rather than having to resort to other means.’”

Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications
Andrew Oppmann

“Out of the Blue” is available anytime on the university’s YouTube channel, the True Blue TV channel, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It also airs on Murfreesboro cable Channel 9 daily at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; NewsChannel5+ at 3:30 p.m. Sundays; and streamed on the MTSU Jazz Network through at 7 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month; and on other cable outlets in Middle Tennessee, so check local listings. 

It is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Google Play and as individual interview segments on Spotify at

Watch previous episodes of “Out of the Blue” at

— Nancy DeGennaro (