Everyone knows prisons and jails are commonly used to house criminals, where freedom, movement, and access to basically everything is restricted. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are over two million people in the U.S. prison population and over 400,000 people working at them. In 1983, two guards at a federal prison in Marion, Illinois were murdered in separate incidents on the same day.
When one hears “use of force simulator training” their first thought may be, training simulators for police officers “shoot or don’t shoot” training, and may dismiss the benefit of simulator training for correction officers. In an environment where the smallest mistake could turn deadly, it is imperative that our correction officers receive the most realistically, beneficial training as possible. Incorporating VirTra use of force simulator training into existing training curriculum will meet the needs of today’s corrections professionals.
The Ever-Changing Prison Environment
There is a constant flow of activity within the walls of prisons, as criminals become more sophisticated and a steady rise in the treatment of serious mental health issues, our correction officers must be well trained and prepared as a first responder for many dangerous incidents. It is vital that correction officers stay aware of their environment at all times, one slight change in the environment could signal a fight or riot. The VirTra 300 use of force simulator scenarios prepares correction officers to utilize all senses while being acutely aware of peripheral vision.
Use of Force Scenarios Training Can Add Benefit to Current Training
The best tool a detention officer has is his/her verbal communication skills combined with the ability to correctly identify situational awareness.
- Verbal De-Escalation – In some instances, a correction officer’s choice of words and tone of voice is all it takes to resolve a potentially violent situation. VirTra’s use of force scenarios offers numerous situations that can be peacefully resolved through communication only.
Depending on the agency and policy, many correction officers may be equipped with basic equipment such as a flashlight, key clips, handcuffs, pepper spray, and Axon® TASER®.
- Choice of Equipment – Use of force scenarios allow officers to use his/her flashlight and deploy pepper spray or taser to successfully resolve the situation currently exist. These circumstances could be a location within the facility the officer is assigned.
- Firearms – Most transportation correction officers carry a firearm and VirTra’s force option simulator has several scenarios that could be used to assist with training, to include hostage, escapee and assisted escapee. VirTra marksmanship training would be beneficial and cost-effective to incorporate into training programs that require live fire qualification.
- Injury Simulation –Working in a prison environment often means correction officers are in confined spaces which is where incidents are more likely to occur. VirTra has a patent technology that allows the operator of the simulator to “zap” the participant anytime he/she is “shanked” by the suspect, instead of moving off, backing off, locking down, waiting for back up, etc. this tool is not to be used as a punishment. It is designed to be used in an effort to teach the participant to work through the surprise and/or pain, to keep fighting. Only through debriefing are better choices defined.
In the prison system, avoiding potentially deadly confrontation is mainly about keeping control over the facility at all times. Nonetheless, unexpected events can and do occur, and the more prepared a corrections officer is for those events, the better he or she will handle them. VirTra’s use of force training simulators are designed to do just that.