Mar. 17, 2020

Teaching Judgmental Use of Force to Law Enforcement Agents

Law enforcement careers involve stress, no matter the position. From rookie police officers to seasoned personnel, individuals in this industry find themselves in difficult situations on a daily basis. Stress is an inevitable reality for those following law enforcement and military careers; however, the effects stress has on decision-making can be minimized through proper practice. VirTra is proud to offer de-escalation training tailored to law enforcement agencies that teaches better judgment in stressful situations.

High Stress in the Field Leads to Heightened Emotion

Officers encounter difficult scenarios regularly. It takes extensive practice to control one’s own emotions when handling difficult circumstances such as domestic abuse or suicidal subjects. Success in these situations depends on not letting emotions cloud your judgment—a feat easier said than done.

Stress Responses Often Result in Better Outcomes

Though appearing counter-intuitive, studies show that stress is related to heightened performance outcomes. A collaboration between the U.S. Army Research Lab, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California used VirTra technology in their study. While participants struggled in the first few stress-filled scenarios, over time, participants improved their performance by counteracting their stress performance. This is best accomplished through immersive, high-fidelity environments, showing the V-300® system as the best option.

Using Return-Fire Simulation to Induce Stress

In addition to the V-300®’s five screen immersive environment, the study also analyzed Threat-Fire® technology. This consequence device replicates hostile activities such as gunfire in the form of an electric impulse. Researchers discovered that using VirTra’s return-fire technology in addition to the simulator caused participants to reach a stress level that affected their performance significantly. Because subjects felt this level of stress in a training environment, they could manage the stress in the field.

The Best Way to Learn Judgmental Use of Force

Combining V-300® and Threat-Fire® caused heightened stress, but enhanced the outcome and prompted better judgmental use of force. Participants learned to control their emotions and make sound decisions despite anxiety and nerves. Traditional training materials—such as videos and lectures—don’t come close to inducing the amount of stress necessary to improve results long-term. Instead, trainees feel as if they are in the middle of the action instead of having to imagine it. Each training course is designed to immerse law enforcement in real-world situations through accurate sights, sounds and tools.

Providing a Safe Environment to Make Mistakes

One of the best aspects of firearms training simulators is the freedom to make mistakes. Law enforcement have the ability to try new tactics without worrying if their actions will harm themselves or the public. Training in this manner allows officers to make sound decisions and refrain from letting fear responses control their decisions. VirTra’s firearms training simulators give participants the freedom to experiment with different de-escalation tactics, less-lethal and lethal methods, then explore the consequences of their decisions.

Ending Stress-Induced Training Simulations with Debriefing

The last way VirTra’s stress-inducing training simulators teach judgmental use of force is through debriefs. After the scenario has ended, both the participant and instructor can walk through the decisions made, the participant’s stance and bullet placement. Law enforcement can use this knowledge to improve their outcomes in future simulator training and in the field. Contact VirTra staff for more details.

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