Policing agencies worldwide are now launching innovative metaverse initiatives that will help protect communities and guarantee the rule of law.
Criminals are starting to exploit the metaverse, and there is a growing threat of potential crimes as virtual and augmented reality continues to develop. The list of possible crimes includes data theft, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, money laundering, and sexual harassment and assault.
The metaverse offers many benefits for law enforcement, enabling them to collect and preserve evidence from virtual crime scenes, but it can also be used to train officers in how to handle real-life situations.
Europol recently released a report called Policing in the Metaverse: What Law Enforcement Needs to Know, which outlines how the technology could fuel future crimes, including the potential for criminals to replicate or hijack user avatars in the metaverse. The report aims to educate law enforcement agencies and policymakers about the new environment of the metaverse so they can adapt their policing tactics.
Let’s take a look at some recent examples of how law enforcement agencies are leveraging the metaverse to fight crime all over the world.
Goals of Metaverse Experiences
As threats loom, real virtual and augmented reality experiences help police officers understand the metaverse.
Immersive metaverse experiences can help law enforcement professionals:
- Find out more about metaverse threats
- Explore effective responses to those threats
- Get training in forensic investigation and other policing tactics
Interpol Unveils the World’s First Law Enforcement Metaverse Experience
This week at INTERPOL’s General Assembly in New Delhi, the international crime-fighting organization unveiled the first-ever metaverse experience designed specifically for law enforcement.
Using virtual reality headsets, the INTERPOL metaverse enables users to:
- Tour a virtual version of the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France
- Experience hands-on training activities and interact with other uses
- Go through a training course on travel document verification and passenger screening
- Teleport to an airport where they are able to apply their new skills at a virtual border checkpoint
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said, “For many, the Metaverse seems to herald an abstract future, but the issues it raises are those that have always motivated INTERPOL – supporting our member countries to fight crime and making the world, virtual or not, safer for those who inhabit it.”
Virtual Training in the UAE
Meanwhile, in the United Arab Emirates, the Ministry of Interior hosted a 3-day virtual training experience for security officials.
During the exercise, officials from the International Security Alliance (ISA) tested their ability to respond to drone and cybersecurity threats in a training that happened inside a metaverse environment. Participants included cybersecurity officials, crisis-response teams, and drone experts.
Major Hamad Khatir, director of the UAE Ministry of Interior’s International Operations Department, predicts the recent metaverse exercise will provide a blueprint for security officials to prepare for our increasingly online future.
“Law enforcement will need to be — and they have to be — in the metaverse,” he says. “In the future, there will be a lot of things on the metaverse, and law enforcement will need to be ready for those challenges.”
Training for Mental Health Crises
Administrators in Mobile, Alabama, recently voted to spend close to $50,000 on ten virtual reality headsets to help them provide crisis intervention training for their police force.
Statistics around interactions between officers and people with serious mental illness are troubling, so this training couldn’t come at a better time.
According to statistics from Mental Health America, approximately 4% of U.S. adults experience severe mental illness, but that group is involved in 20% of police calls and is overrepresented in fatal interactions with law enforcement.
The hope is that virtual reality training can help officers learn how to respond to mental health situations so police forces can improve interactions between officers and people in crisis.