By Maggie O’Brien / World-Herald staff writer | Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2016 12:30 am

Police are learning techniques to resolve conflicts without force, sharpening their decision-making skills and being counseled to address personal problems that could affect how they react to stress at work.

Use-of-force incidents dropped from 545 in 2010 to 401 by the end of December 2015, according to data provided by the Omaha Police Department. The numbers include any confirmed report of an officer using his or her fists, baton, pepper spray, Taser, K-9 or gun while interacting with the public.

Public complaints of excessive force also went down, from 45 in 2010 to nine by the end of 2015.

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Sgt. John Wells, head of the Omaha police union, said he appreciates the efforts to boost officer training, but he questioned what’s really behind the drop in use-of-force incidents. The reduction, he said, could be caused by the “Ferguson effect.”

In 2014, an officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking protests and fueling discussions about policing across the country.

Since the Ferguson case, some argue, officers have become reluctant to initiate arrests for fear that civilians will record their actions and use the videos to challenge the police version of events.

“No cop wants to be a pariah,” Wells said. “It used to be, ‘Dear God, let me come home tonight.’ Now it’s, ‘Dear God, don’t let me wind up on YouTube.’ ”

Even though use-of-force numbers already were dropping in the city, Schmaderer said he decided that he needed to take an aggressive approach after a March 2013 incident in north Omaha. The incident outraged the black community and led to calls for independent oversight of police officers’ actions.

Officer Bradley Canterbury was seen on video throwing Octavious Johnson to the ground and hitting him repeatedly. Officers had arrived at Johnson’s house at 33rd and Seward Streets to tow his vehicle for unpaid parking tickets. The footage, shot on a neighbor’s cellphone, went viral.

Canterbury later said he used force because Johnson kept resisting commands.

Police also entered and searched the Johnson family’s home without a warrant, and Officer James Kinsella took a memory card out of a cellphone.

Schmaderer fired six officers, including Canterbury and Kinsella. Canterbury and another officer got their jobs back through arbitration.

After the incident, Schmaderer asked his staff to develop new training plans for new recruits and current officers, including supervisors. Part of that involved implementing a realistic training system called VirTra that police academy instructors began using to teach officers to think quickly and determine whether to use force — including whether to shoot.

Housed at the city’s police and fire training academy, VirTra, which was paid for by the Omaha Police Foundation, is located in a room with three floor-to-ceiling video screens that are set up in a half-circle. Each officer is given a Glock handgun converted to operate on compressed air. It matches the weight and feel of their service weapons.

The screens display a variety of potentially stressful situations that officers find themselves in daily, such as traffic stops. A trainer, using a computer program, selects the actors’ responses from among several options. The exercise tests officers’ decision-making skills because they have seconds to decide how to react.

If the officer fires his or her weapon, infrared screen sensors detect where a “bullet” hits. The officers also can use words, including commands, to try to defuse a situation before resorting to force.

Officials say events such as the Ferguson case, as well as incidents in Omaha, point to the need for the type of decision-making training that the department is providing. The most recent academy class, which graduated in December, was the first to go through the training. Other officers in the department have gone through it at least once.

As with other use-of-force incidents, the number of cases in which officers fired their guns has declined, going from 10 in 2010 to three last year. Of the 28 officer-involved shootings over that time period, 14 were fatal.

On Jan. 28 of this year, police say, an officer shot William A. Adams, 33, when Adams pulled a gun from his mouth and lowered it toward officers in the doorway of his apartment. Williams died the next day.

Knowing when to shoot or not is “a skill that if you don’t keep sharpened, you could become complacent,” said Capt. Michael McGee, who oversees academy training. “You’ve got milliseconds to make that decision.”

Schmaderer also sought out Weysan Dun, the former special agent in charge of the Omaha FBI office, to work with police supervisors on setting examples for their crews in such areas as ethics, public trust, accountability and public image.

Though Dun’s training didn’t specifically focus on use of force, the topics he covered all are part of the equation, Schmaderer said.

“Police officers are held to a very high standard because of the trust the public places on us,” Dun said. “The way any department operates is a reflection of its senior leadership, and, more importantly, how they handle themselves when dealing with the public and with each other.”

The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had voiced concerns over officer conduct after the 33rd and Seward incident, welcomed the focus on police resolving conflicts without force.

“We urge the department to continue steps toward increased accountability and independent oversight,” said Amy Miller, ACLU Nebraska’s legal director. “The drop in use-of-force incidents from the Omaha Police Department confirms how effective common-sense solutions can be.”

Officers do their jobs of protecting public safety best, she said, when they have ongoing training to address bias and de-escalation, “as well as clear policies related to use of force.”

Across the country, law enforcement agencies are making similar efforts. In Kansas City, for example, officers undergo “tactical disengagement” training in an effort to reduce use-of-force incidents. Instead of physical force, officers there try to use words to calm or “disengage” a suspect.

But not all are on board with the trend. In a February 2015 newsletter, the former president of the International Association of Police Chiefs expressed concerns that officers would hesitate when threatened and get themselves or others killed.

D’Shawn Cunningham, the founder of For the People, an Omaha group formed in 2013 that has been critical of police behavior, said he has met with Schmaderer to talk about excessive force and better police oversight. He said from what he’s hearing in north Omaha, relations with police have improved.

“Even informally, you don’t hear about officer assaults anymore,” Cunningham said. “What we used to hear a lot about was people getting pulled over and roughed up, or roughed up at a house party. We really don’t hear about it as much.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has said it applauds de-escalation training, saying it encourages officers to focus on respecting everyone they come across.

“The bottom line is we want to treat people the way we want to be treated,” Schmaderer said.

In Omaha, the Police Department’s Peer Support Program, which began in 2013, also has helped reduce use-of-force incidents, said McGee, the training captain. Officers who are having problems with work stress are encouraged to talk it through with one of their colleagues to better deal with any aggression that they might bring to their jobs.

McGee, who has been an officer for 30 years, said the way officers respond to offers of help is different from when he started. Back then, he said, police were reluctant to talk about job stress, fearing that they would be viewed as weak. “I can see the difference,” he said. “If I’m in a better mind set coming back to work, I’m less likely to overreact when encountering a stressful situation.”

Another part of Schmaderer’s efforts involves the department’s internal affairs unit, which investigates officer misconduct. The chief added a captain to the unit, Tom Shaffer, who, among his duties, oversees a conduct-tracking system. The system looks at internal reports filed by supervisors. It detects, among other things, when officers are involved in three or more use-of-force incidents in a three-month time frame.

The sergeant in charge of the officer is notified and will sit down with him or her to talk about the incidents. If necessary, the sergeant will determine why the incidents occurred and whether some problem is going on at work or in an officer’s personal life.

Sgt. Jeff Baker, left, watches after Officer Matt Austin finishes a scenario with the VirTra judgement simulator at the Omaha Public Safety Training Center.

Sgt. Jeff Baker, left, watches after Officer Matt Austin finishes a scenario with the VirTra judgement simulator at the Omaha Public Safety Training Center.

Supervisors also go through special training to help them help their subordinates, to encourage them to seek outside help and, if necessary, to enforce discipline. The internal affairs unit also could get involved if the behavior doesn’t change.

“We’ve made a lot of advances,” Shaffer said. “It’s about identifying patterns before they become a problem.”

The department also is working with Gallup Corporation on leadership training for higher-level command officers and has handed out an employee survey to, among other things, determine what workplace problems might contribute to excessive-force incidents.

Police seek to defuse potentially hostile encounters with the public before they’re required to use force. Schmaderer said, however, that the use of force sometimes is necessary, especially when officers’ lives are at stake.

“Law enforcement is charged with the duty to protect the public and enforce the law,” the chief said. “As such, officers will regularly find themselves in dangerous and deadly scenarios, and the use of force is sometimes inevitable. What we are looking for as police leadership is proper use of force when the situation arises.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-3100, maggie.obrien@owh.com

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TEMPE, AZ., Nov. 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)VirTra Systems (OTC Pink:VTSI), a leading provider of use of force simulators and firearms training simulators, today announced that it has recently received an award from an undisclosed international customer in the approximate amount of $3.6 million.

VirTra will supply, install and maintain multiple units of its industry leading V-300™ simulator system at the customer’s locations in 2016. The systems employ multiple screens, realistic video training content and an electric impulse return fire system to simulate the stress of real-world situations – preparing officers for hostile situations with skills honed and refined in realistic scenarios before lives are on the line.

Jason Mulcahy, VirTra’s General Manager, said, “It has been our goal to expand our international business, so as to deliver the most effective and realistic use of force training and ballistically accurate marksmanship simulator solutions to law enforcement and other government agencies throughout the world, all while exceeding our customers’ expectations. This award from this new customer demonstrates our ongoing progress towards achieving that goal.”

Bob Ferris, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VirTra, commented, “We are honored to receive yet another significant award, which adds to our growing list of prominent international customers who’ve selected VirTra’s training simulators and accessories. We appreciate the opportunity to serve this new customer and look forward to working with them in 2016 and for years to come.”

About VirTra

VirTra is a global leading provider of the world’s most realistic and effective judgmental use of force simulators. VirTra is the higher standard in firearms training simulators, offering a variety of simulator platforms, powerful gas-powered recoil kits and the patented Threat-Fire™ simulated hostile return fire system. VirTra’s products provide the very best simulation training available for personnel that are entrusted with lethal force and critical missions. The Company’s common stock is not registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Company does not currently file periodic or other reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

www.VirTra.com

Forward-looking Statements

This news release includes certain information that may constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “proposed,” “planned,” “potential” and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, including statements about VirTra’s beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking information is necessarily based upon a number of assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Although VirTra believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate. VirTra cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Accordingly, due to the risks, uncertainties and assumptions inherent in forward-looking information, readers and prospective investors in the Company’s securities should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. All forward-looking information contained in this press release is given as of the date hereof, is based upon the opinions and estimates of management and information available to management as at the date hereof and is subject to change. The Company assumes no obligation to revise or update forward-looking information to reflect new circumstances, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

CONTACT: Investor Relations Counsel
         Larry Clark
         Financial Profiles, Inc.
         (310) 478-2700
         vtsi@finprofiles.com

Copyright © 2015 GlobeNewswire. All Rights Reserved

TEMPE, Ariz., Nov. 17, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)VirTra Systems (OTC Pink:VTSI), a leading provider of use of force simulators and firearms training simulators, today announced that it has recently received an award from the Victoria Police, the primary law enforcement agency of the State of Victoria, Australia, for just over $1 million.

VirTra will supply, install and maintain multiple units of its industry leading V-300™ simulator system. The systems employ multiple screens, realistic video training content and an electric impulse return fire system to simulate the stress of real-world situations – ultimately to help prepare officers in judgmental use of force encounters. Using VirTra’s highly-advanced systems, officers are better prepared for hostile situations with skills honed and refined in realistic scenarios before lives are on the line.

Scott Dilullo, VirTra’s Business Development Manager, said, “Our V-300™ simulator is used to improve the officers’ skills and abilities in a variety of areas, including situational awareness, decision-making, verbal negotiations, de-escalation, report writing, less lethal force applications, marksmanship and firearms proficiency. The better prepared, trained and confident an officer is, the better that officer will be in handling critical high-stress encounters that could mean the difference between life or death.”

Bob Ferris, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VirTra, commented, “We are honored to add the State of Victoria, Australia to our growing list of international customers who’ve selected VirTra’s training simulators and accessories. One of our key strategic objectives is leveraging our extensive investment in realistic use of force and ballistically accurate marksmanship simulators for the benefit of law enforcement and other agencies throughout the world. Our award from this prominent and highly regarded international law enforcement agency supports our progress towards achieving that objective. We appreciate the opportunity to serve this new customer and look forward to exceeding their expectations while working alongside them for years to come.”

About VirTra

VirTra is a global leading provider of the world’s most realistic and effective judgmental use of force simulators. VirTra is the higher standard in firearms training simulators, offering a variety of simulator platforms, powerful gas-powered recoil kits and the patented Threat-Fire™ simulated hostile return fire system. VirTra’s products provide the very best simulation training available for personnel that are entrusted with lethal force and critical missions. The Company’s common stock is not registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Company does not currently file periodic or other reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

www.VirTra.com

Forward-looking Statements

This news release includes certain information that may constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “proposed,” “planned,” “potential” and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, including statements about VirTra’s beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking information is necessarily based upon a number of assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Although VirTra believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate. VirTra cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Accordingly, due to the risks, uncertainties and assumptions inherent in forward-looking information, readers and prospective investors in the Company’s securities should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. All forward-looking information contained in this press release is given as of the date hereof, is based upon the opinions and estimates of management and information available to management as at the date hereof and is subject to change. The Company assumes no obligation to revise or update forward-looking information to reflect new circumstances, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

CONTACT: Investor Relations Counsel
         Larry Clark
         Financial Profiles, Inc.
         (310) 478-2700
         vtsi@finprofiles.com

Copyright © 2015 GlobeNewswire. All Rights Reserved

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TEMPE, Ariz., Nov. 13, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — VirTra Systems, Inc. (OTC Pink:VTSI), a leading provider of simulators for judgmentaluse of force and marksmanship training, today announced record financial results for the third quarter of 2015. The financial statements are available on VirTra’s website and here.

Third Quarter 2015 Financial Highlights:

  • Net sales were a record $3.9 million
  • Gross profit margin of 62%
  • Net Income of $1.0 million
  • Stockholders’ equity of $4.2 million as of September 30, 2015
  • Cash and cash equivalents of $2.5 million as of September 30, 2015

“I am pleased to report the strongest quarterly financial results in the history of our company,” said Bob Ferris, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VirTra. “This outstanding performance, achieved by the entire VirTra team, is the result of meeting or exceeding our customers’ expectations for effective simulation products. I’m encouraged that our up-front investments to grow our business are succeeding and that we have a strong balance sheet to fund future growth.”

Additional Information on Financial Results:

  • Net sales were $3.9 million for the quarter ending September 30, 2015, up 82%, compared to $2.2 million in the quarter ending September 30, 2014.
  • Gross margin for the quarter ending September 30, 2015 was 62%, compared to 49% for the same period last year. The year-over-year increase in gross margin was primarily due to scale efficiencies resulting from the higher revenue.
  • SG&A expenses were $1.5 million for the quarter ending September 30, 2015, an increase of $0.5 million, from $1.0 million in the same period last year. The higher expenses were primarily due to an increase in workforce to support the increase in business.
  • Net income was $1.0 million for the quarter ending September 30, 2015, compared to $0.1 million for the third quarter 2014. The increase was due to the higher net sales generated during the third quarter of 2015.
  • Stockholders’ equity increased to $4.2 million as of September 30, 2015, up $1.5 million from $2.7 million at December 31, 2014.
  • The Company had no outstanding debt as of September 30, 2015.
  • Cash and cash equivalents were $2.5 million at September 30, 2015, compared to $1.9 million at December 31, 2014.

About VirTra

VirTra is a global leading provider of the world’s most realistic and effective judgmental use of force simulators. VirTra is the higher standard in firearms training simulators, offering a variety of simulator platforms, powerful gas-powered recoil kits and the patented Threat-Fire™ simulated hostile return fire system. VirTra’s products provide the very best simulation training available for personnel that are entrusted with lethal force and critical missions. The Company’s common stock is not registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Company does not currently file periodic or other reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

www.VirTra.com

Forward-looking Statements

This news release includes certain information that may constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “proposed,” “planned,” “potential” and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, including statements about VirTra’s beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking information is necessarily based upon a number of assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Although VirTra believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate. VirTra cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Accordingly, due to the risks, uncertainties and assumptions inherent in forward-looking information, readers and prospective investors in the Company’s securities should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. All forward-looking information contained in this press release is given as of the date hereof, is based upon the opinions and estimates of management and information available to management as at the date hereof and is subject to change. The Company assumes no obligation to revise or update forward-looking information to reflect new circumstances, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

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Tempe, Arizona (October 29, 2015)VirTra (OTC Pink: VTSI), a leading provider of use of force  and firearms training simulators to military, law enforcement agencies and other organizations, today announced important news on Modern Round.  The development of a series of new shooting experiences exclusively for Modern Round facilities, based on VirTra’s strong foundation in simulation technology, is underway. The Co-Venture agreement between VirTra and Modern Round means that each Modern Round facility will also benefit VirTra.

Mr. Bill Scheidhauer has been hired as the President and COO for Modern Round, LLC. to manage the roll-out and profitable operation of future facilities across the United States.  Mr. Scheidhauer has worked in the restaurant industry for over 30 years with a focus on combining entertainment with restaurant and beverage operations through the entire process of new location planning all the way to daily operation optimization. His expertise includes restaurant and foodservice venue services such as operations improvement and implementation, new concept start-up and facility build-out, human resource development and training.

Prior to joining Modern Round, Mr. Scheidhauer served as COO for Frank Entertainment Group, managing 29 entertainment locations that mix theaters, bowling, food and beverage. Before that, Mr. Scheidhauer, as COO, grew IPic Entertainment from a single unit to a 10 location leader in upscale theater operations. Previously he was the COO of Lucky Strike Lanes for the explosive first 5 years of the company. In his capacity as COO, he was instrumental in developing and managing all of the operations for 17 units while pioneering the idea of merging fun games with convenient food and beverage offerings. Prior to Lucky Strike, Mr. Scheidhauer served as VP of Operations Services for Jillian’s Entertainment complexes (some of which became Dave & Buster’s locations) where he oversaw the company’s operational systems and training programs. During his tenure with Jillian’s Entertainment, he formed and served as Dean of “Eat, Drink, Play University”.

Modern Round recently executed a lease for its first location, which will be in Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, and is located across the street from the Peoria Baseball Stadium, adjacent to the Harkins Theatres Arrowhead 18 theater complex. The expected size of the location will be approximately 12,000 square feet and is planned to open for business during first quarter of 2016. The Modern Round team, headed by Mr. Scheidhauer, is currently negotiating and exploring potential additional locations throughout the United States.

About VirTra

VirTra is a global leading provider of the world’s most realistic and effective judgmental use of force simulators. VirTra is the higher standard in firearms training simulators, offering a variety of simulator platforms, powerful gas-powered recoil kits and the patented Threat-Fire™ simulated hostile return fire system.  VirTra’s products provide the very best simulation training available for personnel that are entrusted with lethal force and critical missions.  The Company’s common stock is not registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Company does not currently file periodic or other reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

www.VirTra.com

About Modern Round

Modern Round, a privately held company, was formed to develop and operate the world’s first virtual shooting lounges in key markets across the United States, where guests will enjoy a fun, safe and highly-engaging experience along with world-class amenities.  Modern Round’s lounges will be where technology and entertainment meet delectable food, fine wines, and craft cocktails, providing a distinctive form of entertainment for an all-in-one night out, suitable for first-time shooters and experienced firearm connoisseurs alike.

www.ModernRound.com

Forward-looking Statements

This news release includes certain information that may constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Forward-looking statements are typically identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “proposed,” “planned,” “potential” and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events.  All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, including statements about VirTra’s beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements.  Forward-looking information is necessarily based upon a number of assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information.  Although VirTra believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate.  VirTra cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements as a result of various factors.  Accordingly, due to the risks, uncertainties and assumptions inherent in forward-looking information, readers and prospective investors in the Company’s securities should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.  All forward-looking information contained in this press release is given as of the date hereof, is based upon the opinions and estimates of management and information available to management as at the date hereof and is subject to change.  The Company assumes no obligation to revise or update forward-looking information to reflect new circumstances, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

Investor Relations Counsel

Larry Clark

Financial Profiles, Inc.

(310) 478-2700

vtsi@finprofiles.com

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