Starting today, VirTra is at I/ITSEC at Booth #641 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL! It is also our first Orlando-based event since the grand opening of VirTra’s new facility in the same city.
Every year we add new training scenarios, marksmanship capabilities, and add to our list of supported weapons. I/ITSEC is where we display the latest technology available to military units with the goal of keeping servicemembers well-prepared for the field.
If you are at the show, or will be in the next few days, come visit Booth #641 or reserve a private demonstration. Contact a product specialist to skip the lines and schedule time to experience the V-300 4K!
Realistic training is the obvious ideal for training officers to handle the different calls they might experience. Knowing how to draw and handle the weapons on their belt, knowing when or if they even need to draw their weapon, and being able to accurately use their weapons are all situations where realistic training would help to improve officer performance. This training can be executed in a few ways such as live role-playing or virtual scenario training.
VirTra helps prepare officers for the real-world by offering them a true-to-life experience within our virtual simulators. With four different simulator size options, ranging from one screen to five screens, our five-screen V-300® is our most immersive, realistic experience for training.
Additionally, each simulator is a comprehensive decision-making tool and equipped with our nationally-certified V-VICTA® curriculum that covers topics such as Active Threat/Active Killer, Injured Officer Handgun Manipulation, De-Escalation, and more. The scenarios for each topic are professionally-produced with real actors – departments even have the option to insert locations from their own communities in order to have a more accurate training experience!
We even provide a realistic firearm and less lethal weapon experience with our drop-in CO2 recoil kits and laser-based CEW device cartridges that fit into live handles. When weapons are utilized within the scenarios, the on-screen characters react accordingly, helping to teach officers the results of their different actions.
Not only does realistic training with a simulator help officers experience different situations but it also exposes officers to those situations in a stress-inducing environment similar to the one they might experience on an actual call.
A study done by R.R.D Oudejans states that “Reality-based practice under pressure improves handgun shooting performance of police officers” ¹. VirTra helps accomplish this by providing a fully immersive experience that requires officers to keep their head on a swivel and practice their situational awareness skills.
They also have the option of wearing our stress inoculation device, the V-THREAT-FIRE®, which simulates consequences within the scenarios such as gunshots and dog bites. With both of these training factors, the pressure is on and with that pressure can come improved performance and confidence for officers.
If you want to learn more about receiving realistic training for your department, contact a VirTra specialist.
R.R.D. OUDEJANS; Ergonomics; Vol 51 No. 3; March 2008
Think about when you first became a law enforcement officer—whether it was a few years ago or decades. Either way, few officers had Red Dot Optics/Sights (RDS) mounted on their duty sidearms. But as time has gone on, technology has advanced and evolved to bring modern officers a tool that produces increased accuracy in the field. As such, pistol mounted RDS are becoming increasingly popular and departments everywhere are discussing the accessory.
A simple Google search will display dozens of departments nationwide who have made the switch to RDS, and often, their means of purchase. Since RDS isn’t exactly a cheap accessory—accuracy is critical, so understandably quality materials and precision cost more—some departments have to get creative with finding funds, whether it be through a fundraiser, donation or grant. This goes to show the dedication departments have to improving their officer’s abilities in the field.
So why do departments care so much about RDS? Simply stated, RDS allows officers to focus on the threat while overlaying the dot on its intended point of impact. It is easier, quicker and more accurate, making it a valuable tool to decrease liability in officer involved shootings. But as with any new technology, before jumping in, departments must fully understand both the transition from iron sights to RDS, as well as the pros and cons of this accessory.
To begin, the pistol mounted RDS was originated and popularized by Aimpoint®, which offers several models and versions, depending on the specific need. Differences can include MOA dot size, night vision settings, weight, submersible abilities, length and more—providing departments with the best accessories to fit their officer’s jobs. However, with all of these abilities comes a learning curve. The learning curve will be especially steep for veteran officers who have spent their careers relying on iron sights. It becomes a matter of learning to rely and familiarize oneself with a new sighting system. This, in addition to cost of new equipment and training, are the biggest cons to RDS.
That said, the pros to RDS are substantial. Some of the most notable are:
While the RDS is revolutionary, it does not replace the already-established fundamentals all officers know and were trained on. Stance, grip, trigger control and follow-through do not change, so officers simply need training on using the accessory. This reduces the learning curve to just learning the accessory, not having to change or relearn anything previously taught by instructors or the academy.
To aid in easing the learning curve, while also increasing one’s familiarity and expertise with the accessory, VirTra created a 4-hour nationally-certified course on the pistol mounted RDS. Titled “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment,” this course was created in collaboration with Victory First® utilizing the Acro P-2 by Aimpoint®. Instructors receive all materials needed to teach the course, such as pre-tests, surveys, rosters, instructor’s manual and, best of all, 21 training drills that are compatible with VirTra simulators to test the officer’s knowledge and RDS skill.
After all, classroom teaching can only get an officer so far. Extensive range training—whether it be on a physical range or virtual—allows for increased practice and familiarity that easily transitions to the field. VirTra’s virtual range is especially beneficial, as instructors can easily provide range training with the RDS right there in the classroom. Gone are the days of expensive marksmanship training, or that done with iron sights.
Since Pistol mounted RDS is a relatively new technology, your department may not utilize it, or at least not completely. But as your department transitions and modernizes, to ensure your officers are properly trained on this accessory, remember to train with nationally-certified materials. “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment” can help your department, no matter the size, unique difficulties or learning curve. Now is the time to embrace new technology, implement it and stay two steps ahead.
In discussing the difference between VR and AR Training with Police Magazine, Lon Bartel, director of training and curriculum for VirTra, touched on some points that explain why Augmented Reality Training for law enforcement can be more effective than VR.
The first problem addressed with Virtual Reality was “VR sickness” which is caused by the cognitive disconnect of when your senses are perceiving movement but your body is relatively still. Some trainers try to lessen this by having students sit in chairs while they are wearing the headsets but this can cause more harm than good when training.
Bartel further talks about how training in this way could cause bad training scars in that it trains students in practice to not move from the line when they feel the need to use force because they might bump into something or make themselves sick. Which is where Augmented Reality Training comes in to combat this.
AR allows students to utilize and move around their real environment by having the system insert people or items in order to enhance the real-world space that they are in. This is different from VR because the student’s senses and the body’s movement are less likely to contradict each other, mitigating the sickness that comes with Virtual Reality.
Another point Bartel touches on is the use of CGI in VR training. With CGI characters, students are likely to experience the Uncanny Valley effect, which explains that people would be, “repelled and revolted by interactions with robots that appear ‘almost human’ but not exactly human”.
This creates a challenge in de-escalation and use-of-force training because the CGI characters are unable to represent the subtleties of human behavior. Students are then faced with the difficulty in be unable to read the character’s emotions and not knowing if they are reacting to the threat or the “subconscious aversion” that they have towards the virtual character.
Conversely, Augmented Reality allows agencies to place real people to play the roles of the characters in the training scenarios. Additionally, these “characters” are able to exist in the real space that the student is in. Thus, the student is interacting with humans displaying real emotions in a real-world space, creating a more effective training environment.
To learn more and read the full article, click here!
During and after the pandemic, people became much more aware of how many disease can spread. Mitigating the spread of disease as a first responder goes beyond just COVID-19. Officers are in close contact with many people, and any of them could – knowingly or unknowingly – have an infectious disease.
Understanding the diseases and sicknesses that are at the highest risk for law enforcement officers to obtain is the start. Officers also benefit from understanding how diseases can spread and what the signs and symptoms are.
VirTra’s “Infectious Diseases” course provides 4 hours of material for officers to learn from. There are also 3 associated scenarios to help officers practice interactions.
Disease can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi. Viral infections are a common way for first responders to become sick due to contact with the public. HIV, tuberculosis, COVID-19, hepatitis, and the common cold are some examples of viruses obtained through direct or indirect contact.
To become infected with a virus/bacteria, typically one of the following contacts have occurred:
The list above is certainly not exhaustive. Some organisms may even linger on objects that were handled by someone with a virus. This is why it is important to take reasonable precautions if there is a risk of becoming ill.
While it is not always foolproof, there are several ways to greatly mitigate the spread of disease. Decreasing the risk of infection can be as simple as washing your hands or avoiding touching your nose and mouth.
Washing your hands frequently – not just when you believe you have touched a sick person – is important. If you unconsciously touch your face with unclean hands or eat without washing them, you could pick up an organism. Make sure your hands are either thoroughly washed with soap, or that you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Using personal protective equipment (PPE) may be necessary to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces or airborne particles. Gloves, face masks, and eye protection are some examples of PPE that can be used on the field if needed. N-95-rated masks may be required for specific organisms to be effective.
It is also recommended that you stay home if you feel ill. You may have a weak immune system and expose yourself to other viruses, plus you may spread a virus to other colleagues. If you are predisposed to infection or have a weakened immune system, taking more precautions helps you better prepare for possible exposure to germs.
Our V-VICTA® course, Infectious Diseases, allows not only for classroom learning, but for real world practice. Some scenarios deal with an individual coughing, letting the officer decide how to handle the situation while protecting themselves. Another deals with irate people who do not wish to comply with a business’ PPE rules.
The scenarios help supplement the learning of this important topic. The course comes with an entire manual containing instructor guides, note taking materials, tests, scoring rubrics, and more. Even better? When the course is completed, students receive a certificate of completion and earn NCP credit.
If you are interested in VirTra’s coursework and want to learn how to incorporate it into your agency’s training regime, contact a specialist.
When selecting a training method for your officers, you want to make sure that you are choosing one that has scientific evidence behind it while also keeping your teams engaged and retention rates up. You can get all of these things when you train with the VirTra simulators!
VirTra prides itself in its work with science-based technology for law enforcement. With that, our technology and curriculums are designed to immerse trainees into real-world scenarios that help them develop their decision-making skills, firearm skills and much more in a way that has been proven to be effective.
With the simulator comes a variety of training applications and focuses. From crisis response and de-escalation to marksmanship, different trainers will likely all choose different focuses depending on what they see as a priority at the time. But all of these focuses play important roles in rounding out the officer training experience.
One question some might have is how to train their officers in all these different ways without overwhelming them with so much information that they are no longer processing and retaining it. David Blake, police practices/force response expert and law enforcement trainer, did some research on how to keep learner retention up and found information on trainees’ limited processing capabilities and how training simulators can play a part in increased learner retention.
He found a concept that was studied called Cognitive Load Theory. Cognitive Load Theory suggests that learners have a limited amount of mental resources that can be divided into three categories; intrinsic, extraneous, and germane loads. Blake explains, “In general, our instructional goal should be to manipulate intrinsic load into manageable pieces while decreasing extraneous load and increasing germane load for optimal learning”.
Which, in simpler terms, means that trainers should break the content into desirable difficulty pieces, minimize unnecessary information, and decreasing the number of training methods to help achieve long-term memory storage for trainees.
Blake goes on to explain that training simulators are a really useful way to implement this suggestion. Students can learn through watching their trainer go through a scenario, pausing at key points for them to ask questions and absorb the information. When they are ready students can then work through the scenarios on their own, still pausing at key points to absorb their simulated surroundings and answer the problem before continuing. Eventually, students will be able to run through the scenarios fully on their own with no pauses.
He concludes that using the simulator in this way is an effective method because, “The student’s full attentional resources are focused on the learning objective instead of those goals being lost in the dynamics of the scenario”.
To read through the whole study called Force Options Simulators: An Underutilized Training Tool by Dave Blake, click here!
For more information on our science and research-based simulators and curriculum, contact a VirTra specialist today!
The topic of “active threat” and what is being done to prepare for a potential event is a highly relevant one in the law enforcement world. And, though an active threat may look different for them, the military must also prepare for such instances.
An active threat is identified as an event where a populated area is being targeted by one or more people with the intent to obtain a high number of casualties. When faced with an active threat, the attacker/attackers are often individuals whose beliefs do not align with their targets. Generally, firearms or explosives are the weapons utilized in these situations.
Firearms are a frequently used method in green-on-blue attacks; however, explosives tend to be more common overseas within military active threat situations. There are a variety of ways that explosives can be utilized such as in mines and hidden bombs, launched grenades, vehicle-borne devices or even attached to an individual.
In a statistic provided by the Defense Department, “…improvised explosive devices account for 50 percent of all daily attacks…Of the three types of IEDs (roadside bombs, vehicle-born bombs and suicide bombs), roadside bombs are responsible for the most casualties.”
Despite the circumstance, the main goal is for military teams to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible and keep as many lives safe as possible, including their own.
It is important for servicemembers to have access to real-world training for these situations. However, replicating such a high-stress situation, especially one with explosives, can seem challenging for teams to accomplish safely.
But realistic training for an active threat situation is made possible with the VirTra simulators. Servicemembers can train through real-world scenarios designed to help them practice situational awareness, threat neutralization, marksmanship and so much more in a fully immersive experience.
Scenarios are designed to put trainees under stress while also requiring them to use quick decision-making skills, creating well-trained military teams that are prepared for these situations.
VirTra’s military training combat simulators provide access to multiple crucial training scenarios that are designed to help them stay prepared for active threats.
To learn more about the chosen defense simulation solution by the military, contact a VirTra specialist today!
Are you testing or training your team? It seems like an easy question to answer.
Conceptually we all understand we need to educate our people before we test them. We want to provide students and officers with the material and skills they need to perform critical tasks, let them develop in those areas and then be tested.
However, do you fire up your simulator, place your students into a highly immersive and realistic environment, and run them through a scenario, finishing by telling them what they did right and what they did wrong? If you answered “Yes,” then you are only testing them. They showed up, you gave them a problem to solve, they solved it and then you evaluated them. By definition, that would be a test, not training.
There can be some training value in a test, but do not confuse testing and training. Seasoned trainers know that if you provide too much feedback on too many areas the information won’t stay with the student. I have seen this occur with many debriefs. Trainers throw out too much information for students to digest, but the assumption is that if it was covered in a debriefing, the student learned from it. How do you know they learned? How much of your feedback was integrated? Did you retest to find out?
Let me give you a real-world example. Pretend you showed up for College Algebra and I, as the instructor, hand you a test and ask you to complete it. You turn it in, and I grade your answers and make corrections to any wrong answers. I then tell you what you did right and what you did wrong and give you a grade. But were you trained? Were you ever trained to do the math topic first? Did you get to practice a similar equation to ensure you could transfer the concept to the test? Did I use a consistent method to ensure you have an understanding of the expectations? Were you provided a “worked problem” to help guide your actions? This kind of example has been applied to training methods as far back as the 1980s.
In 1988, Dr. John Sweller presented evidence that conventional problem-solving activities such as taking tests do not effectively develop a schema1. A schema is a file folder that our brain creates to identify, group and relate to things. We develop a schema when we do things like throw a football or draw a firearm. Developing schemas is how we learn. To do it, we have to have enough working memory available to move what we are working on in our head to our long-term memory. If the working memory is overburdened with problem solving (completing the test), then we cannot effectively move it to our long-term memory. This means we can’t effectively develop a schema, or learn from the experience if it is under too much pressure or load.
One way that working memory gets overloaded is when we are engaged in complex problem-solving. Dr. Sweller referred to it as cognitive load – when the cognitive load is too high, effective learning is compromised. If you give your students a problem and their working memory is filled up by trying to answer the problem, they have no reserve to move the lesson into long-term memory effectively.
However, Dr. Sweller’s work did not say you can’t learn from taking a test. He said it is not as effective as other methods such as a “worked problem.” The use of a “worked problem” is a method to help facilitate the development of a schema with a structured presentation of the problem and only partial amounts of the solution provided. This requires the student to “fill in the blanks” of what has not been provided. Providing a partial answer to the student allows for less of their working memory to be tied up in problem-solving. Think of it as a study guide to an exam.
Even officers who have “had the class before” may need to knock the dust off or warm up their skills again. From the research, we know feedback is critical to better performances. An important aspect of feedback is that it is timely, which means it needs to be close enough to the behavior to be able to relate, such as telling your dog “bad dog” for chewing on your shoe 10 minutes ago has no meaning to the dog in the present moment in time. These same principles should apply to law enforcement training. If you wait to the end of the scenario to provide seven points of correction to debrief on, are you sure the points from the start actually stick? If you are not giving a test, why not pause the event at the first point of error and correct it? Letting an error compound as the event unfolds has little training value.
Instead, by developing a specifically written curriculum you will ensure you are effectively using any simulated event training. It must be more than just a list of what events you are going to run. Do you have a pre-test, post-test, evaluation rubric, performance objectives and scripted presentation materials? For example, VirTra’s V-VICTA™ program provides a step-by- step curriculum in a prescribed format to ensure that a training plan is carried out. There is nothing that says effective training requires a student to fail miserably. We can let them make an error, pause the event and discuss the current behavior. Afterward, we get them to dig in and truly understand the mistake. This makes debriefing a valuable part of the training and helps reinforce the schema required for learning to take place. Without effective debriefing as a crucial component of training, we are only testing the students. Few trainers will get to an opportunity to re-test and see if any transfer takes place.
So, ask yourself. Are you testing or training your team?
There’s no such thing as a professional bystander. You can’t consider yourself a “professional” if you aren’t going to take action when you see something wrong being done by a co-worker. In law enforcement, your failure to intervene could result in discipline, losing your job, being sued civilly or even being charged criminally.
Not only can this affect the individual officer, but it also has a direct effect on the public perception of law enforcement as a whole. These types of incidents thrusts law enforcement into the national spotlight. A spotlight that has played a role in American’s confidence in law enforcement dropping to 48%.
What does it mean to fail to intervene? In a nutshell, it means that an officer who purposefully allows a fellow officer to violate a person’s Constitutional rights may be prosecuted for failure to intervene to stop the Constitutional violation. (Department of Justice, n.d.)
The next question you might have is, “Who does this apply to?” When it comes to an officer’s duty to intervene, courts have stated that it applies to EVERY officer of EVERY rank, including all levels of command staff. (Putman v. Gerloff, 1981). The duty to intervene even carries across situations that might involve officers from different agencies working together.
Courts recognize that not all situations can be stopped by an intervening officer. For example, an officer that runs up to a suspect and punches them before you even had time to realize what was happening. In cases like this, courts recognize that an officer does not always have an opportunity to stop the other person’s action. While you may not be able to stop the action when it occurs, you still must follow through with reporting the unconstitutional act in an appropriate and timely manner.
Failing to take action is only half of this discussion. The other half must deal with HOW you should take action. Many officers have never been exposed to this type of training, so they are unsure on what their options are, as well as what their obligations might be.
But don’t worry, VirTra has you covered!
In our upcoming V-VICTA® curriculum, “Duty to Intervene: No Such Thing as a Professional Bystander,” we will give your agency all the tools needed to work through or even avoid a circumstance where officers need to intervene.
You will learn how having the correct policies in place can help avoid these types of situations. It also discusses the types of training officers should stay up to date on, as well as best practices that have worked in other agencies.
Included with the curriculum is a set of custom-made videos for students and instructors to watch and discuss how they would handle what occurred in the videos. There will also be brand new scenarios that were designed around the duty to intervene training. The new scenarios include a vehicle contact, a suspicious person, and a large-scale protest. The entire course can be done within your VirTra simulator and can provide your officers with 2 hours of IADLEST certified training.
Stay Safe. Stay Dedicated.
In de-escalation training for police officers, it is vital for them to prepare for situations that require less-lethal options. CEW devices and OC sprays are both important assets to officer’s belts and practicing utilization of these devices within realistic scenario training is sure to have them prepared for the field.
VirTra developed an un-tethered, true-to-life way for departments to train with their less-lethal options. With our Axon® TASER® and SABRE® compatible technology, officers can train with their own devices within the simulators for maximum realism. VirTra ensures that de-escalation police training is taken to the highest standard.
Part of what makes VirTra training so unique is that we are the only company in the U.S. that is able to provide a laser-based training cartridge used inside simulation for the TASER® line! VirTra offers variety in our TASER compatible products, providing three separate cartridge products that drop into the TASER simulator housings.
V-X26P™ TASER Simulation Cartridges
This TASER simulator cartridge’s probe spread is accurately displayed just like in real life, no matter how far the trainee is away from the screen.
V-TX2™ TASER Simulation Cartridges
This cartridge contains a seven-degree probe spread allowing precise and accurate target engagement.
V-T7™ Simulation Cartridges
VirTra’s newest TASER simulator cartridge contains a 12-degree probe spread that is ideal for close-quarter (CQ) engagement. The other includes a 3.5-degree spread for farther distance targets.
Though unique in their own ways, each model is able to assign unique laser IDs to track and score each probe placement. Upon deployment, the on-screen simulation characters will react accordingly providing trainees a realistic view of their target proficiency and de-escalation skills. Trainees are then able to evaluate their performance, continue to practice and always continue to improve through VirTra’s de-escalation training for police officers.
VirTra also developed a laser OC device that fits inside of a SABRE® MK3 canister, matching the exact form, function, and weight of the actual OC canister! This provides a way for officers to safely practice deploying their OC spray and, just the same as the CEW cartridges, the simulation characters display a realistic reaction for officers to learn from. Other less-lethal items include batons, gas grenades, bean bags and more.
All of our less-lethal product options benefit officers in receiving true-to-life de-escalation police training while also helping make sure that they return home safely each day.
We are always here to help answer any questions you may have about our less-lethal products, TASER simulator cartridges, and more. Contact us today!