Last week, Action Target hosted the Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC) in Provo, Utah and VirTra was honored to be a part of it. The training camp takes place annually and invites law enforcement personnel from across the globe to participate in training conducted by Law Enforcement instructors across a variety of disciplines.
Some of the topics included:
For our part, VirTra brought the V-ST PRO® simulator and had it set up in a classroom at Action Target headquarters. Our course was titled Red Dot Transition and Sustainment Training. During the first day, students would work on fundamentals such as high purchase/flat presentation as well as timed evolutions from the holster. Students were exposed to red dot malfunctions and shot drills to help them make combat effective hits if their optic goes down. Strong hand/support hand skills were established, and shooters practiced drills that forced them to shoot with both eyes open.
After the classroom portion of the training, it was off to the range to conduct some of the same drills with live fire. Officers noticed the benefit of having practiced the drills in the simulator first. Several attendees stated that they felt much more confident in their abilities using a red dot after the course was completed. VirTra creates drop-in recoil kits and CO2 magazines to ensure the user’s weapons have realistic recoil in the simulation. By using our “Boresight” feature, shooters can “dial-in” the simulator weapons to suit their stature to ensure accuracy and continuity in training between the simulator and live fire.
The event was a great success and was very well received by the students who participated.
As always, Stay Safe!
From the way we perceive, recognize, and respond to a threat to how that stress affects our performance, there is a science behind every human reaction and perception. To better understand optimum training and tactics, it is important to understand the science behind human performance as well.
It is beneficial for instructors to know how the brain processes and uses information. This information is what directs the body to perform in a certain way. By studying these processes even at surface level, the complexity of decision making in policework becomes apparent. It can help foster better training habits to recognize how the mind works with the body.
When we get information from the environment through sight, sound, etc., our minds process it. Both the information and the interpretation of it are the two vital parts of perception.
Perception can be altered if the information is of a lower quality – such as an excess of or lack of light or sound from the environment. If your focus of attention is elsewhere or non-existent, it interferes with perception. Additionally, arousal can heighten your ability to perceive.
Schema is another possible obstacle to perception. Schemas are models used to organize knowledge and categorize certain things and situations. This is what allows us to recognize events quickly in the world. For example, imagine a subject drawing a weapon. Some may imagine a person pulling a gun from the hip area. However, there are other objects besides a gun that can be removed from the hip area. A phone or a wallet, for example.
When a person hears and/or sees a stimulus, it takes time for the brain to process and interpret that information before an action is performed. You must also account for the time it takes to move to complete that action. Many things can lengthen the time between perception and response.
This process is vital for officers and instructors to understand, as it relates to the commonly used “split-second decision making” described in policework. It is also where decision training comes into play and considering what types of training foster correct decisions and fast responses.
Think of how parts of many firearms training courses work. A buzzer goes off, and the officer shoots a target. This is a great example of a stimulus eliciting a response; however, it is not the pattern that officer involved shootings follow. This is where officers should be trained in evaluating before responding – not just relying on stimuli.
Stress is different for everyone. Sometimes it comes from chaos, sometimes from an event perceived as frightening. It tends to happen to officers particularly when their safety is at stake. Stress increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate while also making you more tense.
Arousal relates more to heightened senses and readiness to act. You have likely heard of the “fight, flight, freeze, fawn” responses – these are initiated by arousal. Arousal can increase performance to a certain point – and it depends on whether the task is cognitive-based or strength-based. Having lower arousal is better during a cognitive task such as chess, but higher is better for a strength or endurance task like wrestling.
When keeping stress and arousal in mind – imagine how they may affect an officer during a tense situation.
Due to the high importance of this topic, VirTra developed a 7-hour NCP-certified course based on groundbreaking research such as the work done by Force Science. “Human Factors in Force Encounters” includes in-depth information pertaining to the information above while fostering decision making by providing 7 modules of drills to be completed in the VirTra simulator. It intertwines classroom learning and practice in a simulated environment.
If you are interested in starting your simulation training journey with VirTra, contact a specialist.
In order to maximize law enforcement use of force simulation training, trainers must create an environment that is both three-dimensional and realistic. Simulators like the V-300® provide an excellent way for students to experience situations not possible through roleplaying or classroom training and are greatly benefitted by the addition of props.
A way to take simulation training to the next level is with the addition of props in a simulated scenario, the new environment makes the on-screen situation more realistic, thus adding a deeper level to the student’s training.
When using props in conjunction with simulators, there are a few things to keep in mind:
All props should be convincing and believable. Oftentimes, trainers use simple objects like chairs or desks to represent trees and mailboxes. But imagine how much more a student would benefit if there were a realistic representation. To keep the simulation as lifelike as possible, each prop introduced into the scenario should fit the situation.
If props become burdensome, they will be used less often, or not at all. Keep your props simple, light and easy to manage so they will be used as intended and in more simulations.
Effective use of force simulation training needs to teach cover and concealment (and the difference between the two). Moving off the X and utilizing resources within the operational area is another important training point. This adds another level of possibilities and challenges for the student as it requires the ability to quickly assess the environment before making decisions.
Relevant props can be portable and cost-effective while fitting into the scenario. It offers a way to teach trainees how to cover and conceal while tactically working within the simulation, which is best paired with the V-Threat-Fire®.
Below is an example of irrelevant three-dimensional props in a scene. Clearly, a fire hydrant and wooden log would not be appropriate in a kitchen. The use of furniture or other household items would be more believable, thus keeping the student immersed in the simulation.
Trainers can acquire props to be used in a simulator through local prop companies, or by making the props themselves. Props can be made out of wood, cardboard or other readily available materials. They can be custom-made to fit the department’s needs.
Props are an excellent way to enhance simulator training through a three-dimensional effect. If you need help finding the best ways to train realistically, VirTra can help. Contact us for more information.
In the world of law enforcement, we have our superstitions and sayings. These are the things that FTO’s pass along to their recruits early in the field training program. Some of them include:
Another piece of essential knowledge that we pass along has to do with report writing. We will tell new officers that “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.” But here’s the rub: that doesn’t just pertain to reports. Training records must also be well documented. If training isn’t appropriately recorded, it can open up your agency – and the individual officers – to varying levels of liability.
Recently, a case involving an agency in New York, involved training officers submitting false training records (News10, 2022). This has led to criminal charges against them and questioning how much training the recruits actually received under their supervision.
Whenever an agency has training (no matter how short the session is), there should be a record of it occurring. All training sessions should include the topic of what was trained, the amount of training time, any handouts given to attendees, a copy of all training material and a sign-in sheet.
If an agency or officer ever ends up having to testify in court, many times the training records will be requested by the attorneys or judge. Without the training records, it will be hard to argue what training the officer received, and when they did it.
Outside of court, most agencies are required to show that their officers have received a certain amount of training each year. Many states require that agencies submit proof that officers have received this training, or the officers may face losing their certification.
Another reason to keep diligent training records is to protect Field Training Officers (FTO’s) and the agency. If a probationary officer/recruit ends up being cut from the program, many times the training and re-training records of the officer are requested in termination hearings. Showing that an agency did all it could to help the recruit succeed can be easily resolved with accurate training records.
For agencies that use VirTra training simulators, your training officers can save training sessions directly through our software. If your system is equipped with a TMaR, you can also save the videos of your officers going through the training. These training records can be the difference between a successful prosecution of a defendant or losing a case. The records may also protect an individual officer or agency from significant litigation and liability.
Whatever system you use, make sure your records are up to date and accurate.
News10. (2022, March 25). Fort Edward police chief, sergeant face felony charges. Retrieved from News10.com: https://www.news10.com/news/crime/fort-edward-police-chief-sergeant-face-felony-charges/
If you have followed VirTra for any amount of time, you will know that IACP is a staple for us. It is a chance for us to show our newest simulation technology, upcoming products, and sometimes a surprise debut. Over the years, the event has given VirTra numerous occasions to display our virtual reality training to law enforcement agencies looking for effective training.
Our most advanced 5-screen simulator, the V-300 4K® made its debut at IACP in 2019. This immersive simulator uses 4K projectors to give officers a crystal-clear picture of the simulated event they are going through.
Officers heavily rely on their sight during the job – and even subtle nuances can signal a possible threat. By more accurately reproducing objects and subjects, body language and non-verbal threat cues, the V-300 4K more perfectly replicates real-world encounters.
At VirTra, we place high value on the quality of our content. While advanced hardware and large screens are impressive, the learning that results from our training is what we strive for. Each scenario and skill drill is crafted by in-house subject matter experts and a team of content developers.
Scenarios cover a wide range of topics of value to law enforcement. Active shooters, mentally ill subjects, traffic stops, and domestic situations are just some examples. With an average of 85 branching options per scenario, no single event is guaranteed to go a certain way. Almost every scenario can be resolved entirely with verbal de-escalation – not requiring the officer to fire their weapon or less lethal device.
To make firearms training more realistic and transferrable, VirTra users can train with drop-in recoil kits and refillable CO2 magazines. Users can fire their real weapons in the VirTra simulators without the need for permanent modification.
In addition, the V-Marksmanship® program provides ballistically accurate, customizable range options. Agencies save on the cost of ammunition and practice on a simulated range first, where they can perfect their skills virtually before switching to a live fire range.
We want to make sure officers can train at all ends of the force spectrum – and that includes less lethal equipment. ECW devices and OC spray are laser-based and on-screen subjects will react accordingly when targeted. Virtual reality training should not be limited to only shoot-don’t-shoot!
The V-Threat-Fire is the patented consequence device that changed the game for simulation training. When a user is fired upon, bitten by a dog, or in an explosion, instructors can activate an adjustable electric impulse. It is tested for safety and can be switched to vibration mode if preferred.
If you have any questions, VirTra representatives will be available anytime during IACP to discuss our simulation training technology or provide a demonstration. Come see us at Booth #2739 on October 14-17 in San Diego!
Violent crime is up[i] yet there are still some calls to defund the police. There are a few different issues with this, but here are the main two: First, it can cause the crime rate to spike even higher. Second, it does not solve the underlying issues. The call for defunding has been a political response to claims of excessive force, many of which have been based around a false narrative such as the “hands up don’t shoot” fallacy.[ii] It is upsetting to hear when police officer abuses their power or acts out of conduct, but what has been shown is that officers overwhelmingly do it right. In the insanely difficult circumstances where officers must make decisions under unbelievably tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situations providing training is the way to increase performance and improve outcomes. Not just more training but scientifically based training methods with high efficacy that can make an impact.
It is easy to spin and twist data to suit a particular narrative. When you hear that 1,147 people were killed by police in 2018, it sounds shocking, yet when you consider that police made contact with approximately 61.5 billion people in 2018, that brings the percentage of people to 0.001%.
The data also does not show which killings were considered unjustified. Remember that if an officer or another person’s life is in danger because of someone’s actions, deadly force is justified. If someone is shooting at an officer or putting lives of the public at risk, deadly force is likely the answer to stop the threat. Unfortunately, there are situations where the officers’ actions are wrong – whether it is with malicious intent or not – and in those cases, then the criminal justice system should be used to establish the appropriate actions.
Most calls for defunding are not saying they want to abolish the police force altogether. Protestors arguing for this cause believe the money would be better off redirected elsewhere. The problem is that without adequate funding, officer training will suffer. There is already a tiny portion of funds that goes towards training – with less money, it will only get worse.
Many issues that cause people to believe the police should be defunded are more likely to be corrected with more effective training. The incidents where negligent actions led to people hurt or killed by killed the police could be attributed to the fact that the officers were either not well trained, did not follow their training, or both.
With the right instruction and training programs, the likelihood of mistakes and misconduct decreases. De-escalation training that may calm an irate subject and less lethal transitions that ensure an officer uses the right level of force are just two examples of how the community can be safer when better instruction is provided.
As incidents occur around the country, VirTra does its best to keep up with training curriculum and scenarios to match. Some examples include Duty to Intervene or Weapon Transitions. Mistakes will happen, as they do in all fields of work, but preparation and confidence lower the chances of those mistakes.
Simulated scenarios and immersive learning techniques can help put trainees in an environment that is close to real life, making it much more effective than bookwork. To learn about our ever-growing library of scenarios and incorporate VirTra in your training regimen, contact a specialist.
Think of how many people a day officers interact with. Being able to effectively communicate, read body language, and calm a situation down are important skills for law enforcement. While not every person can be de-escalated, there are many instances where simple tactics such as using a calm voice and creating distance can make a difference.
Instead of relying on instructors to act as role-players or just learning through bookwork and presentations, simulation training has opened the door for realistic practice engaging with real people.
If a simulated scenario only has a couple of options and pathways to resolution, it can only be done so many times. Users in the simulator would easily learn what they are “supposed” to do, and the element of predictability would be too strong.
Our multi-incident scenarios have several branching options, allowing officers flexibility in how they respond and for instructors to change things up depending on the actions of the trainee. If the trainee’s de-escalation tactics are not working, the instructor could choose to make the on-screen character react with hostility. On the other hand, if the officer is effectively communicating, the instructor might allow the scenario to end peacefully.
As an officer, you’ve heard the word many times. It has become a buzzword, and not always in the right context. Properly de-escalating by using only verbal communication skills can reduce the chances of force being used if the person wants to be de-escalated. This includes using a calm voice, creating distance, avoiding inflammatory language and swearing, and letting the person safely vent.
It is important to note that not every subject can be de-escalated. Some people are too heavily under the influence of illicit substances, and others are simply not willing to cooperate no matter what. This is known by most officers, but the public tends to think you can wave a wand and calm everyone down. In these situations, the officer must do what is necessary to protect themselves, the public, and the subject as well.
While training for use-of-force incidents is important and should be done, officers rarely fire their weapons. In comparison, officers talk with members of the public many times per shift. In fact, the New York Times reported that 32-37 percent of officers’ shifts involve responding to non-criminal calls. Not only is keeping peace part of their jobs, but they often act as mediators, therapists, and a listening ear. This reality is reflected in the high number of scenarios that involve de-escalation on VirTra’s simulators.
People can be irate and unruly in many situations, locations, and ways. Maybe it’s during a traffic stop, at a residence, or a public park. In each of these situations, instructors can choose what the subject will say, if they will calm down, or if they will become further enraged. Even in active threat training scenarios, a subject can raise their hands and surrender to officers – not every scenario has to end in lethal force.
VirTra gives instructors and officers alike a flexible way to train for de-escalating and to hone communication skills. Would you like to schedule some time with a representative for more information? Contact a product specialist to learn more.
There has been a staggering number of calls for police change in reaction to multiple high-profile incidents captured by body cameras. The calls for defunding have been subsiding and are starting to be replaced with a realized need to reform. Many quickly realized that training needs to be maximized, not just increased. The slow boil will continue to build to ensure that training is evidence-based.
Constraint-Led Training would have an immediate impact and is scientifically backed up (Passos et al., 2008; Newcombe et al. 2019; Low et al., 2021). This concept was recently featured on the Trainers Bullpen. Dr. Staller and his work are featured in this episode:
There are some key features to the Constraint-Led Approach (CLA) to consider.
Much of the research is focused on sports, but CLA has been used to look at law enforcement (Koerner & Staller, 2021). By applying CLA to law enforcement training, officers can develop a broader range of skills, adaptability, and decision-making abilities necessary to navigate the complex and unpredictable situations they may encounter in the field.
A career in law enforcement always entails a lot of human interaction. When you work with others, there is always an opportunity to catch a “bug” or other virus. There are also risks of more serious diseases if care is not taken when risks are apparent.
HIV, Hepatitis A, B, and C, and tuberculosis can be transmitted through a variety of different ways – such as air particles and contact with blood/saliva. If you have a weaker immune system, even a cold or flu that would normally be a minor hassle could become more severe.
Being aware of risk factors and preventing the spread of infectious diseases can help keep you and those you work with safer. It is vital to be cautious when dealing with an individual who may possess needles, has a persistent cough, or is spitting or otherwise ejecting bodily fluids.
Infectious diseases are illnesses that are caused by either bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Depending on the organism transmitted, an infected person can experience varying symptoms. These can resolve on their own with rest, but other serious cases may require treatment or even hospitalization.
Bacteria, though the word has a negative connotation at times, are not always bad. Some cause no effect to humans. Some live in the gut to help us digest food. Examples of infections caused by bad bacteria include strep throat, tuberculosis, MRSA, and food poisoning.
Viruses require a host (people, animals, plants) in order to grow and survive. Some common viral infections include the common cold and COVID-19. Certain ailments such as pneumonia and meningitis can be caused by either a virus or bacteria.
Fungi can cause skin diseases such as ringworm and athlete’s foot, as well as infect your lungs or nervous system.
Parasites are microscopic living organisms that require a host to survive. Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by mosquito bites. Some parasites can be transmitted from animal feces.
There are two basic ways diseases are passed to humans – either direct or indirect contact.
Direct contact can be person to person. If an infected person coughs or sneezes on you, you have a chance of obtaining the same infection. Another possibility is animal to person, which occurs when an infected animal scratches or bites a human. Handling animal waste can cause infection as well.
Indirect contact can occur in a few different ways. Germs can linger on objects like doorknobs or tables, and if someone touches an infected item and then their face, the germs can be transferred. Insect bites are another example of transmission through indirect contact. Infection can also be spread through contaminated food and water, such as E. coli.
As we remember from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are various types of personal protective equipment (PPE) that can lower the risk of transmission. Some may even prevent infection entirely. It is also important to remember the basics like washing your hands thoroughly.
Here are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of disease:
Remember to get the necessary tests if you believe you were exposed to someone with a viral infection. If you were accidentally stuck with a foreign needle, getting tested is even more of a priority and should not be put off.
An upcoming course titled “Infectious Diseases” will soon be available to current law enforcement clients. This 4-hour course falls under the V-VICTA® curriculum umbrella and includes an instructor manual, testing materials, a class roster, and more.
Three new scenarios are introduced with this course. They include situations where the responding officer needs to exercise caution around a possibly infected individual, as well as someone refusing to wear a mask when a business requires one.
As of the writing of this article, VirTra is in production on an Active Shooter scenario in a local church in the Phoenix area. What goes into the making of these scenarios is impressive. First, VirTra’s Law Enforcement Subject Matter Experts have combined law enforcement experience of more than 100 years. Our SMEs have served the public and experienced actual law enforcement events that translate to our simulator to make for great training opportunities. Whenever we endeavor to make a new scenario, our panel gets together to vet the scenario and figure ways to exploit our 300 degrees of digital simulation to best provide relevant, realistic, and dynamic training. Active shooter events are dynamic and fluid, and at VirTra, our content team works to ensure that engagements are not stagnant or predictable. Fluid movement is the key to allowing the student to find work within our dynamic training environment.
Rewarding good student performance with realistic reactions from role players is another hallmark of our system. VirTra hires real actors to play roles in their scenarios and those actors are coached by our SMEs on what their reactions should look like. Our Training and Content team look through agency websites to pick role players and hold auditions to ensure that we are capturing the reactions that we want to see in violent encounters. Finally, our SME group blocks out with the directors the specific movements that the camera should make in order to work angles properly and use basic principles of cover to ensure realism and avoid breaking immersion.
If you are waiting for new content on your system, the production team installs the latest content annually during your annual service trip. Keep an eye out for our next project and feel free to look through your content after our installers visit your site. The new scenario will be called “Mass Chaos” and will be split into mini scenarios as well to accommodate clients with V-180® and V-100® systems.