TASER® training is essential for law enforcement, as most police agencies in the country (and around the world) utilize these less lethal devices. However, properly training with live ECWs can be difficult, time intensive, and expensive.

Instead of limited less lethal training, police officers can receive training in the full range of less-lethal tools inside high-fidelity simulators. VirTra’s simulation training is designed to be realistic and to provide transferrable training.

Less Lethal Training

Realism for TASER training is created through a combination of on-screen characters and VirTra’s TASER simulation cartridges.

Your Axon TASER can be utilized in the simulator for training. By replacing the live cartridge with VirTra’s laser-based training cartridge, training can be done safely in your simulator. When officers deploy their ECW, the characters on screen react accordingly. From training in this manner, officers become more comfortable with less lethal options and reduce training scars by using the real tool.

Certified Curriculum for TASER Training and Weapon Transitions

VirTra’s NCP-certified TASER Targeting curriculum for law enforcement provides coursework for instructors to train officers on when to use their TASER and how to aim and deploy properly. A part of V-VICTA® coursework, instructors have access to training manuals, testing material, surveys, and more.

Additionally, the Weapon Transitions course helps officers switch from lethal to less lethal and vice versa. As shown in the video above, the user can switch tools depending on the level of threat presented. This training can help to prevent weapon mix-ups.

Want to learn more about our less lethal training options? Contact a product specialist here! Also, check out our YouTube channel to see other ways of maximizing your training simulator.

*AXON, TASER, X2 and X26P are registered trademarks of AXON ENTERPRISE, INC which can be referenced here.

To deliver the best possible training experience to our clients, we have partnered with industry experts. These partnerships have provided additional expertise in various certified V-VICTA curriculum offered.

Partners include:

  • Force Science – Courses including “Weapon Transitions” and “Human Factors” were co-authored by the experts at Force Science – a widely-known law enforcement research, training, and consulting company.
  • Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center – Due to the need to support interactions between law enforcement and people on the autism spectrum, VirTra partnered with SARRC to provide curriculum to teach officers how to safely and effectively communicate with people on the spectrum.
  • National Sheriff’s Association – VirTra has worked alongside NSA to develop training focused on dog encounters. While not a certified course, it is the first of its kind that includes interactive scenarios and lessons on how to distinguish dog behavior.
  • Aimpoint® – A mounted optic provider, Aimpoint assisted VirTra in the creation of the “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment” course by allowing the utilization of their pistol mounted red dot optics. Aimpoint is recognized as the originator of red dot sight technology.
  • Victory First – VirTra developed the “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment” course in conjunction with Victory First owner Matt Jacques – a retired officer and U.S. Marine veteran. Victory First trains law enforcement as well as responsible firearm owners.

VirTra has also worked with Haley Strategic and Action Target for applying lessons learned in the simulator to the real world. Whether it is decision-making or marksmanship, the important part of training is that it can be transferred to reality.

We appreciate and thank our partners for their contributions to our training, making it more sustainable and trustworthy.

It’s estimated that 53% of US households have a dog, which totals 63+ million homes. As such, there is a significantly greater chance of encountering subjects with pets.

With officers entering residencies and parks where dogs may roam unleashed, there is a good chance officers will run into untrained or uncompliant dogs. While many pups are naturally friendly and curious, some are territorial and aggressive, making it difficult for law enforcement to perform their jobs. A bite from a large, aggressive dog is quite painful and could pose health risks.

To prevent injury to oneself and unnecessary harm to pets, the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA) as well as the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) to created the LEDET Dog Encounters coursework for officers.

For law enforcement officers to gauge their safety, they must first understand canine behavior, which manifests itself via clues to the dog’s mood. For example, a dog with a wagging tail and relaxed posture is happy and unlikely to bite or cause harm. An aggressive dog will bare their teeth, growl and/or maintain a tense posture. By recognizing these signs, officers will know if they can proceed or must exercise extreme caution.

VirTra took training a step further by creating a variety of simulated scenarios that focus on dog behaviors. Each scenario has the officer practice correctly identifying the canine’s behavior and diffusing the situation if necessary. An example is featured below in our scenario titled “Property Alarm Response”, where the responding officer correctly analyzes the dog’s behavior and responds properly:

This form of realistic, skill-honing training is designed to reduce and potentially eliminate incidents where an officer kills a family pet due to an inability to properly understand the dog’s intention. Not only does shooting a pet cause distress to the owner, but oftentimes, costly lawsuits can result. Departments can limit these incidents effectively through proper, increased training.

To learn more about this coursework specially developed by the NSA and NLECAA and brought to simulation by VirTra, contact a specialist!

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.

Reaction and Response Time

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 and Arousal

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.

Human Factors in Force Encounters

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.

Protecting your health on the job as a police officer is important as it’s a career with 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.


The Causes of Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are illnesses that are caused by either bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites and can spread in various police scenarios. 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.


How Diseases are Transmitted

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.


Preventing Infectious Diseases

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:

  • Properly wear nitril gloves, eye protection, and face masks to prevent contact with saliva or other bodily fluids.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with your hands.
  • Hepatitis B and Tetanus vaccines are recommended by the CDC for first responders.
  • If you feel sick (vomiting, have a fever, etc.), do not go to work.
  • Do not allow the general public to use your personal pen for signing documents.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

To protect your health on the job as a police officer, always 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.


VirTra’s Infectious Diseases Course for Law Enforcement

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 police 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.

Emotionally disturbed person(s) – or EDP – is a broad and vague term often used to describe someone with a mental illness experiencing some sort of crisis. This includes erratic behavior that can be harmful to oneself or others.

The most recent data from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Some mental illnesses can be so mild they are nearly undetectable. Others are severe and debilitating with symptoms that limit activities in life.

Because of the high number of individuals that law enforcement officers interact with every day, they are bound to encounter someone with a mental illness. For this reason, VirTra’s law enforcement simulation training for mental illness and EDP encounters has many scenarios that allow police to practice these scenarios. It also will help them recognize when someone is experiencing a crisis or is suffering from a mental illness.


Misery Mountain

In this scenario, the responding officer in the simulator is dispatched to a hiking trail in the mountains. A man is sitting on the edge of the mountain, clearly upset. As the user will find out, the man is suffering from depression. The goal in this law enforcement simulation training for mental illness and EDP encounter is to calm him down and get him away from the side of the trail.

“Misery Mountain” is entirely dialogue-based and there are no force options available. The goal is to speak to the man in a way that calms him down and ensures he is being listened to.

Government Spy Games

Some situations may look unusual, but if nothing illegal is happening and there is no disturbance, it can be best to let the situation go. In “Government Spy Games,” the user is playing the role of an officer dispatched to a welfare check. You learn in advance in this law enforcement simulation training for mental illness and EDP encounter that the individual is mentally ill, and that their family has not heard from them in a while.

When you enter and see a man whose home is covered in aluminum foil, it is certainly a strange sight. The man is very paranoid, but upon questioning and seeing that he is alright, there is no reason to press further. This scenario is a dialogue-based one where no force is needed.

Office Anxiety

When interacting with a person in crisis, it is important to choose the right words and tone of voice. In the scenario “Office Anxiety,” the officer in the simulator must calm an office worker who is holding a pair of scissors. She has scars on her arms from previous cutting, and is causing her colleagues to worry for everyone’s safety. The woman can be de-escalated depending on what the user says, or they could become more irate, leading to an encounter with a higher level of force.

Training for Several Mental Illnesses

Due to how common interactions with mentally ill subjects are, VirTra created a 15-hour course to assist law enforcement clients. Mental illness comes in all forms, so VirTra’s “Mental Illness: A Practical Approach” curriculum covers 9 different types:

  • Persons in crisis (crisis de-escalation)
  • Depression
  • Suicide & suicidal ideation
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma & PTSD
  • Neurocognitive disorders (dementia, Alzheimer’s)
  • Schizophrenia & mood disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Substance use

Each module of this course includes slide presentations, class evaluation forms, tests, and the associated scenarios to run through. After engaging in classroom instruction, officers can practice their skills in the simulator.


In the end, our goal in providing these scenarios and courses is to keep officers and their communities safe. Training for mental illness encounters and being able to recognize them can save lives. If you would like to get started with VirTra’s training courses, contact a specialist.




When used properly, de-escalation can reduce police use of force. While not every situation permits de-escalation—as some subjects are noncompliant no matter what—there are times when the proper tone of voice or choice of words can calm the subject or reduce the chance of them becoming out of control.

Recently, many agencies have heavily focused on maximizing law enforcement de-escalation training to lower the frequency of force used by their officers. To help further this training, VirTra has produced two nationally-certified de-escalation courses that are free for all law enforcement clients.

This training—De-Escalation and Crisis De-Escalation—has a total of 6 training hours which encompasses coursework, presentations, and de-escalation training scenarios. As nationally-certified materials, they fall under the V-VICTA®—Virtual Interactive Coursework Academy—program, along with other skill-building curriculum.

De-Escalation Curriculum

Born from a partnership between VirTra and the conflict experts at VISTELAR, this 4-hour course allows officers to practice de-escalating situations before they become detrimental. In the course, this is referred to by VISTELAR as “non-escalation.” Paired with simulator scenarios that allow the officer to practice verbal de-escalation, this course is dedicated to improving communication.

Crisis De-Escalation Curriculum

This 2-hour course is designed to help officers better identify crisis behaviors and use their VirTra simulator’s real-world scenarios to practice their skills. Like “De-Escalation” and other V-VICTA courses, Crisis De-Escalation provides ample time for training in lifelike scenarios.

The video below shows two officers utilizing a popular scenario, “Bridge Baby.” In this scenario, officers confront a man holding an infant over a bridge. Officers in the simulator must use communication skills to calm the man and convince him to put down the baby and surrender.

Getting Started With Maximizing Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training

With a wide variety of environments, situations and subjects, instructors have an extensive choice of training options for their officers. Everything from unruly bystanders to emotionally disturbed persons – VirTra aims to cover as much territory as possible to prepare law enforcement for unpredictable situations.

The best part is that these two courses are already NCP-certified by IADLEST. This saves agencies a lot of time by not having to write and certify their own curriculum. Both courses – as well as other V-VICTA courses – have all the materials needed. From instructor manuals to testing materials, it is all included.

It is important to note that nearly every scenario in VirTra’s library has an option for de-escalation. VirTra goes beyond “shoot-don’t-shoot” by providing various branching options that depend on the training points.

For more information on our de-escalation courses, please contact a VirTra specialist.

“Active shooter” or “active threat” are simple phrases for events that can take multiple forms. This includes the type of attack – sometimes it is not a “shooter” at all, but a bomb detonation or a vehicle targeting a group. In the Columbine Massacre, there were two shooters who also set up bombs (which thankfully were not detonated).

The location is a factor that varies significantly. People tend think of schools or places of worship when discussing an active threat, but businesses and medical buildings have been targeted. It is typically in a crowded area with a steady flow of possible victims, but not always. The attacker could be targeting a specific group of people – whether it is a religious group they disagree with, or a former workplace.

Because of all the varying factors, police officers should be prepared for multiple situations. It is not always easy to gather role players or borrow space in the local mall to conduct drills. VirTra’s scenarios allow you to respond to more than one active threat situation all within your agency’s training room.

Midnight Madness: Movie Theater

Most of us remember the movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO in 2012. With 82 victims – 12 of which were killed – it is a horrific event that is remembered by first responders and American citizens alike. This event inspired VirTra to create a scenario from the after-action reports where officers must respond to an active shooter roaming through a movie theater.

What makes this scenario so immersive per our agencies is the way it helps with split second decision-making. As the officer makes his/her way in the direction of the shooter, other innocent victims are running away, sometimes quickly popping out from inside showing rooms. If you are being overly reactionary, you may accidentally target one of them instead of the perpetrator.

Courthouse Crisis

As its name suggests, this scenario is in a Superior courthouse where security has been breached and multiple shooters are outstanding. Despite their tight security efforts, courthouses have been targeted before. One example is the 2005 shooting at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, GA. Like the scenario, he also overpowered a security guard. In this scenario, you can apprehend the perpetrator – in Fulton County, the attacker was on the run for a few days before his capture.

What makes this scenario unique is how it reinforces officers’ need to keep an eye out for multiple threats. As we have seen, it is not always a single person. Another important factor is that this scenario – like nearly all VirTra’s others – does not have just one option where you “shoot the bad guy.” Officers can practice negotiation techniques that, if effective, may cause the suspect to surrender or release a hostage.

Courthouse Crisis

Mad Bomber Multi-Incident Scenario

As previously mentioned, active threats are not always “shooters” but can also involve IEDs. Sometimes hostages are involved too. In the “Mad Bomber” scenario, a disgruntled office worker has a bomb strapped to his chest and is holding several other individuals hostage. He threatens to blow up the building, but there are many times where the subject expresses his emotions and state of mind.

Despite the bomb’s switch in his hand, there are opportunities where the officer in the scenario can de-escalate the subject. While lethal force is an option, there are many teaching points regarding hostage negotiation and crisis communication within this scenario.

The law enforcement multi-incident interactive scenarios discussed above are just a small sampling of what is available. Depending on the VirTra system you own, there are numerous options with varying teaching pain points. VirTra recommends checking the Customer V-RC Portal for the updated scenario master list.

Additionally, there are three different courses focused on active threats: “ATAK: Active Threat / Active Killer” has three modules that are NCP-certified by IADLEST. Instructors can provide 11.25 total hours of coursework that has been thoroughly reviewed and can be used in tandem with the simulator. Like all V-VICTA® coursework, these courses are free to all current customers. You can learn more here.


If you would like to incorporate simulation training into your agency’s regimen, contact a specialist.

You may have heard the story of Deputy Kyle Dinkheller’s murder during an officer-involved shooting. The event was tragic, but Dinkheller lives on with how his story has helped train recruits and officers alike.

The original dashcam footage gave insight into a few tactics that were not properly used – or in some cases, not used at all. Some of the training points to look at include vehicle contact and approach, utilizing the radio for backup, and force options.

Vehicle Approach and Driver Exit

When Dinkheller pulled over Andrew Brannan, he asked him to step out of his vehicle to talk to him. This was what his agency’s training had officers do, however it is generally agreed upon that it is easier to control a person inside a vehicle.

A situation that seems mindless but can have serious consequences is how you approach the vehicle. There are many things to be aware of, such as:

  • Not positioning yourself or walking between the two vehicles. If the subject is in the car, they may shift to reverse. If the squad car is rear ended while you speak to the subject between the cars, you and the subject could be pinned between them.
  • Where to use the vehicle for cover and concealment. Using the length of the vehicle can provide cover.
  • Use the passenger side approach when possible, as it is typically the safest.

During vehicle approach, staying within the mitigation zone1 and maintaining control of where the subject is positioned can greatly increase safety.

“Man With a Gun” – When to Call for Backup

When Dinkheller used his radio to request backup, it caused Brannan to become more agitated. Sometimes negative reactions occur when a call is made within earshot of a subject, so officers should be mindful of when and where they use their radio.

Additionally, if you are engaged in the threat, your priority should be addressing it. Teaching officers to call for backup during a use of force event should be avoided. It can create a training scar with serious effects, such as not addressing the current situation, but relying on other units that may not arrive immediately.

The Right Tools, The Right Way

During the time of Dinkheller’s murder, ECW devices were not widely used. Dinkheller used a collapsible baton to get Brannan to stop his actions, but it was not used with full force. The hit combined with the fact that Brannan had a contaminated mindset made it so the strike had no effect. When a subject is mentally ill or under the influence of a substance, they do not always respond to pain compliance techniques.

Another less-lethal option would be going hands-on. If a subject is not listening to the commands given, an officer may start by grabbing the subject and trying to restrain them. Dinkheller, unfortunately, did not attempt to go hands-on although he could have based on Brannan’s actions.

Finally, there is the lethal option which could have been utilized at a certain point into the encounter. Dinkheller had a rifle available to him in the trunk of his squad car – a storage position that was normal for his agency at that time. Long guns should ideally be kept in the driver area of the squad for easier and faster access.

Putting the Techniques into Practice

The newest curriculum by VirTra – “My Story: Dinkheller” – gives officers of all experience levels a chance to learn from this past event. Instructors have access to training materials such as an instructor manual, slide presentation, testing material, and more. It can easily be taught to students right out of the box and is free for VirTra customers.

Along with the coursework is a brand-new scenario that puts you in a similar situation to what Dinkheller went through. You are on a rural road on a traffic stop with a mentally ill subject. What will you do in that position? Will you use de-escalation and be able to verbally calm the man, or possibly use a less lethal device? There are 80+ branching options depending on the user’s actions or the instructor’s choice.

See the video below for a glimpse at what this scenario is like. If you would like more information on this course, visit this page here.


  1. Lewinksi, W. D. (2013). The influence of officer positioning on movement during a threatening traffic stop scenario. Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 13(1), 98-109.

If you have been following VirTra for any amount of time, you may have noticed that we put great emphasis on our content. High-definition video and advanced hardware are not the only aspects that aid in training law enforcement. Most important is the training content that ensures effective knowledge transfer. VirTra’s efforts even go beyond intense and realistic scenarios – the VirTra content team of subject matter experts create curriculum for instructors to utilize in a fast, simple way.

This curriculum, known as V-VICTA® (VirTra – Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy) pairs VirTra’s immersive scenarios with actual NCP certified materials. VirTra customers receive lesson plans, scoring rubrics, presentations, class surveys and more. We know that it is time-consuming and difficult to create your own curriculum and have it certified, so VirTra has done all the legwork for its training partners.


Training that Transfers

V-VICTA has proven to be effective for Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). Todd Brophy, the Firearms Range Training Coordinator, has incorporated the curriculum into his force options instruction classes. Brophy allows the CJTC students to learn in a classroom setting first, then coaches them while they practice in one of the 10 units, they use VirTra simulations for in their Firearms Program.

“The feedback we are consistently getting from the students is ‘we need more of this,’” said Brophy, who likes to allow his students to work in pairs for practice in communication skills and contact & cover concepts. “The students seem to enjoy the training and provide feedback of what they are taking away at the end of the session consistent with the learning goals and objectives we have identified for each training segment.”

Brophy’s successful method of using the curriculum combines his existing teaching modalities with V-VICTA’s. V-VICTA can be used in tandem with pre-developed ideas, or just used right out of the box. Some of the certified courses offered include:

Beyond VirTra’s in-house subject matter experts, we also partner with industry experts to ensure the quality of content. Before becoming available to customers, every course is submitted to IADLEST for NCP certification. IADLEST rigorously reviews every course to ensure it meets standards before it ever meets customer systems.

To receive V-VICTA and its updated content, you must be a current VirTra customer on an Annual Service Plan. To find out more about how to obtain V-VICTA curriculum, contact a product specialist here.