NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A year after the friendly fire deaths of two NYPD detectives, new training is underway to prevent similar tragedies.

The use of virtual reality technology is helping officers better prepare for making split-second decisions.

At a joint tactical center in Brooklyn, officers may appear to be walking toward a screen. But the scenario shown on that screen is as real as it gets: A man trying to break into a school, who runs at the sight of police.

Two more officers move in, drawing simulator guns. The armed suspect hides, but eventually charges at police.

The simulator-based training allows NYPD officers to go through different situations they could face.

Web Extra: Read More About The Simulator Training From The NYPD (.pdf)

NYPD Inspector Richard DiBlasio – no relation to the mayor – says it reinforces the training they get in the ranges.

“Repetition is recognition,” he said.

Unlike on the streets, at the joint tactical center there are instructors to help guide the officers, emphasizing critical decision making.

“Instructors have the power to change, to branch out depending on how officers react to scenarios they’re facing, would it be a less lethal option, a lethal option, how are they communicating with each other,” DiBlasio said.

The space inside the 69th precinct used to be a shooting range, but was transformed into a training center. It’s one of eight across New York City.

The training begins with pictures of Det. Brian Simonsen and Officer Brian Mulkeen on the screen, both killed last year by friendly fire. Those tragedies expedited the training, which is focused on officer safety, and a strong emphasis on crossfire.

“We want them to identify, mitigate crossfire,” DiBlasio said. “We want them to communicate with each other and have a safe environment during a critical incident they’re encountering.”

Every officer goes through the training four times a year. It’s constantly evolving, often based on what’s happening in the community, with the goal to keep everyone alive.

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