Posted on May. 16, 2024 by Christopher Dorch

 

Of the $334M federal grants offered to law enforcement agencies nationwide, the Department of Justice reserved almost 15% for de-escalation training. This translates to over $43.6M in funding to overhaul or at least reform training efforts that resolve disputes without use of force. Clearly, it pays to improve de-escalation.

Driven by public outcry, policy, and genuine efforts from within the law enforcement community,  de-escalation reform promises to reduce harm on both sides of police encounters: officers and citizens.

However, as departments claim these opportunities and begin implementing new training, one question remains. Which training methods actually protect officers and the people they serve, and which just check the boxes?

 

Which De-Escalation Trainings Work, According to the Data?

Recent studies show that some forms of training significantly reduce use-of-force incidents without putting first responders at risk. The Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) program showed promise in a study, leading to a 25% decrease in civilian injuries and a 36% reduction in officer injuries.[1] This training method emphasizes using time and distance to reduce tensions, slowing high-pressure interactions like how SWOT teams navigate prolonged disputes. ICAT faced limitations, however. Agency leaders noted that the program was expensive and without regular reinforcement, the benefits of the training wore off, putting officers at risk. Future implementations must prioritize regularity to see desirable results.

 

VR training may be the shot in the arm that de-escalation training needs. Since virtual scenarios require less staff and space, VR and XR allows agencies to practice with the frequency required to be effective in the field. A study of 63 participants showed that virtual and live-action de-escalation training led to similar improvements in conflict resolution across multiple categories.[2]

 

X-XR Extended Reality Training Solution

While virtual training has made headway in law enforcement, several drawbacks hold it back from reaching its potential. Motion sickness, implementation costs, and outdated graphics reduce training time and retention.

VirTra has stepped in to bridge this gap, with a new extended reality headset. The device effectively eliminates VR sickness by allowing trainees to see their surroundings. V-XR’s characters are created using volumetric video capture instead of traditional CGI, leading to much more realistic interactions. To learn more about V-XR, click here.

 

[1] Louisville Metro Police Department, “ICAT Evaluation Initial Findings Report,” September 21, 2020, https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/Research%20Center/LMPD_ICAT%20Evaluation%20Initial%20Findings%20Report_FINAL%2009212020.pdf

[2] Jennifer Lavoie, Natalie Álvarez, Victoria Baker, Jacqueline Kohl, “Training police to de-escalate mental health crisis situations: Comparing virtual reality and live-action scenario-based approaches,” Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 17 (2023): paad069, https://doi.org/10.1093/police/paad069.