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!
You get sent to a disorderly subject complaint in the parking lot of a local bar. Upon arrival, you observe rather large, intoxicated person yelling at a number of different people, challenging them to try and fight him. He sees you and quite pointedly challenges you to try to take him into custody. You determine that the best course of action is to use your electronic control weapon (ECW) in an attempt to get this person to cooperate.
You are within deployment distance, so you draw your ECW and start making the appropriate commands at the subject. Not only does he simply laugh you off, but he suddenly pulls out a large hunting knife from his rear waistband. Before you know it, he starts walking toward you in an aggressive manner. As you start to move off the “X,” you need to do a number of things in quick succession: Create distance, keep an eye on the subject and transition from ECW to firearm. Do you holster the ECW before unholstering your firearm? Do you drop it on the ground and draw your gun? Do you stick with the ECW against the knife? Have you practiced holstering up your ECW and transitioning to another option?
These types of situations, where an officer must move up or down in their use of force choices happens all the time. Unfortunately, many times use of force training focuses on a single force option. Officers will go through a training event where they will only be faced with a situation where they select an option, such as their handgun, and keep it out for the entirety of the training.
Officers need to be proficient with use of force transitions. In order to meet this proficiency, there are two specific areas that need to be trained: Recognizing when you should transition and properly transition from one item to another.
In an attempt to help with meeting these training needs, VirTra has developed a scenario to address these transitions. The scenario “Weapon Transition” has a number of different subjects that can appear with various threat levels. These subjects are all dressed the same and move the same, in an attempt to force the officer to simply focus on the actions that the subject takes.
When a subject in the scenario performs a certain action, the officer will have to determine if they should be escalating or de-escalating in the choice of control. This scenario covers both training needs (recognizing the need to transition, and actually performing the transition) in a single run through. With the multiple different subjects and actions they perform, officers can train multiple times without seeing the same situation twice. For instructors, this offers a high number of repetitions for the officers, with almost no downtime.
With the ability to play back the officer’s training session through our TMaR system, instructors can debrief the officer on how well they transitioned, and if the transition was appropriate. Video playback of an officer’s performance is invaluable since they can actually see what may need to be improved, or what they are doing right, instead of simply relying on an instructor’s feedback.
Remember, it’s not IF you’ll have to transition when interacting with someone, it’s WHEN you’ll have to do it, and how quickly you recognize the need to transition and how smoothly you perform it.
VirTra Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert
Retired Peace Officer – Wauwatosa PD (WI)
When a non-compliant subject is resisting law enforcement officers, but their actions do not warrant the use of deadly force, the Axon® TASER® is often able to subdue the unruly individual. Temporarily immobilizing someone may cause them to cease the actions that prompted the TASER use in the first place, but this is not always the case. Situations evolve quickly and at unpredictable rates, so police may need to switch from a TASER to a firearm in case what was once seemed minor turns into a serious threat to officer and public safety.
While the TASER and firearm are on opposite sides of the belt, in a high-stress situation and/or one when an officer may not have had effective or frequent training, the two may be confused. When confronted with a sudden stressful situation that an officer isn’t prepared for, mistakes occur, and sometimes they result in death.
TASER training is more than just learning how to aim the probes to the correct location of a person’s body – although that is a part of it. Members of law enforcement also must know how and when to transition from a TASER to firearm and vice versa, depending on what happens in an ever-changing situation. VirTra has a certified V-VICTA™ course dedicated to not only TASER use, but transitions – aptly titled “Weapon Transitions.”
Like other V-VICTA curriculum, Weapon Transitions is available to all VirTra customers under an annual service agreement. It is a 5-hour nationally-certified course that is recognized in 37 states by POST. With the use of simulated scenarios along with a training manual containing training points, testing materials and more, officers and trainees can practice weapon transitions in an environment that is safe and controlled, but also realistic enough to simulate stress.
Along with curriculum such as TASER Targeting and Weapon Transitions, VirTra supplies agencies with drop-in replacement TASER simulation cartridges that allow officers to practice with their duty TASER within a VirTra simulator. With TX2 and X26P options, plus more in the works, instructors can train officers and trainees by monitoring their performance right from their desktop due to the unique laser IDs that are assigned to each trainee weapon. During debrief, instructors can see exactly where probes hit or missed.
The V-TX2 and V-X26P follow the same set of goals as other VirTra products – ensuring realism for the most effective training experience that will allow skills to properly transfer to the field. With physical fidelity met by the combination of a lifelike design and accurate trajectory and psychological fidelity fulfilled with stress-inducing scenarios, VirTra aims to keep officers and their communities safe and able to go home at night.
If you would like to learn more about how VirTra helps law enforcement members with TASER training and weapon transitions, contact a product specialist.
Training should not be a second thought, not a rushed affair and certainly not taken lightly. So why do some departments still train with outdated equipment? Depending on the equipment, its age and lack of technological advances, it could produce training scars. So why take the risk?
VirTra’s training simulators and accessories are designed to immerse the trainee in real-life situations, making training so physically and psychologically real that skills are easily transferred to the field. This allows instructors to maximize training hours and lessons while knowing each trainee is receiving the best training possible.
To begin, VirTra’s scenarios are filmed with professional filming equipment and paid actors, ensuring high fidelity visuals for officers. VirTra does not use any CGI-characters in scenarios, as they are unable to recreate the small nuances that make humans realistic, such as micro-expressions, subtle body language and more. Instead, VirTra goes the extra mile to train professional actors how to move, speak and interact with other characters, often guiding them through multiple scenario outcomes, thus allowing us to create branching options for the instructor to select from while the scenario is in action.
With VirTra, trainees are not stuck in simple shoot-don’t-shoot police training scenarios. Instead, due to our technological advances and accessories, trainees can use the entire toolbelt. This includes duty TASERs®—once outfitted with VirTra’s drop-in laser recoil kit—and OC spray. Now, trainees can practice with the entirety of force options, starting with verbal de-escalation and going up to less lethals or lethals if the situation demands it. As an instructor, you can provide better training on the use of force options.
In a nutshell, the Threat-Fire is a consequence device that is attached to a trainee and delivers an electric impulse that simulates return fire, dog bites, explosions, etc. Instructors can use this device to safely apply stress and immediate negative consequences, if the scenario demands it. In addition to stress inoculation, Threat-Fire tests the trainee’s ability to stay engaged in the scenario and carry on with the mission despite the physical distraction. See this device in action while learning other details in this video.
Debriefing with VirTra is much more than a rudimentary summary of the scenario. Instead, VirTra offers the TMaR accessory—Trainee Monitoring and Recording—whose camera and microphone records the trainee’s performance during the scenario. Now in debrief, instructors can scrub through the scenario and replay any aspect, analyze any movement and review timing and shot placements. Can your current training simulator provide a debrief this in-depth?
Every training simulator, accessory and curriculum is designed to help keep officers and their communities safe. Learn more about how VirTra’s high-end technology can transform your department’s training by contacting a VirTra specialist.
As an instructor, have you seen local environments of high crime that would make for a beneficial training scene? With VirTra’s V-Author® program, this can be easily accomplished.
In a nutshell, V-Author is an easy-to-use scenario creation tool that is capable of creating virtually unlimited custom image-based scenarios, skill drills, targeting exercises and firearms training.
To begin, users can pull an image from the provided background library of specific, real-world environments or upload their own. Instructors can take panoramic photographs of local high-risk locations, scenes of previous judgmental use of force incidents or other locations around town and convert these images into a simulation-ready background through V-Author.
After selecting the background, instructors can drag-and-drop pre-filmed characters onto the environment. This is where VirTra’s technology takes police training to the next level: character assets come programmed with a variety of behaviors and reactions that instructors can program to be triggered by events initiated by the trainee. Characters can also react to each other, scene events or even instructor-driven commands in arbitrarily complex ways. This allows for a virtually unlimited set of potential scenarios, all crafted around the trainer’s need and preference.
However, the training does not stop there. In V-Author, every character is independent and instructors can reuse them in new scenarios or modify their current behavior for a new outcome within the current, existing training scenario. As such, law enforcement trainees can learn from, communicate with and participate in scenarios that are ever-shifting. Training after this manner gives instructors the freedom to create the exact training situations needed by their department, rather than being confined to a limited list of scenarios that other training simulator companies offer.
Remember how we mentioned each character is independent? In addition to having a variety of behaviors, characters are programmed to provide separate reactions based on the hit zone location and weapon type fired by the trainee. For example, characters will respond appropriately for Axon® TASER®, OC and gas reactions, then have an entirely different reaction for a shot to the limb. To further the realism, projectiles can be defined with animation effects such as TASER probe wires unfurling when fired, or gas clouds on impact of a gas grenade.
Just like with all VirTra scenarios, in V-Author, debrief is completed through VOS. This allows the instructor to play the situation back at different speeds, scrub the timeline forward or backward, show the placement of shots fired and more. As a training bonus, instructors can save sessions to playback as a training tool at a later time.
This article only covers the beginnings of V-Author. This powerful training tool allows the instructor to design a training regime around local environments and department-specific training needs. For more information, watch our in-depth YouTube video or contact a VirTra Specialist.
Axon TASER® training is an essential component of less lethal training. However, properly and extensively training with live TASERs can be difficult, time intensive and expensive.
Instead of limited less lethal training, police officers can receive extensive training in the full range of less-lethal tools—especially TASERs—inside high-fidelity simulators. Each simulator is designed to be physically and psychologically realistic, providing training that easily transfers to the field.
For less lethal TASER training, the realism is created through a combination of on-screen characters and VirTra’s TASER simulation cartridges.
By outfitting real Axon TASER X2 and X26Ps with VirTra’s simulation cartridges, the TASERs can be utilized in, and interact with, the simulator. As such, when officers deploy their TASERs, the characters on screen react accordingly and realistically. At the same time, officers become more comfortable with less lethal options and reduce training scars by using the real accessory.
VirTra’s certified TASER Targeting curriculum for law enforcement also provides coursework for instructors to train their cadre on proper aiming, when to use the device and why. A part of the V-VICTA line of coursework, instructors have access to training manuals, testing material, presentations, class rosters and more.
See TASER training in action below:
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*AXON, TASER, X2 and X26P are registered trademarks of AXON ENTERPRISE, INC which can be referenced at www.TASER.com/legal
An officer’s toolbelt is his lifeline in the field. Depending on the situation, the toolbelt has the answer, holding communication, less lethal and lethal options. However, in order to effectively deploy less lethal tools or chemical agents, officers must be trained in them. Just like with firearms, deploying a less lethal without training opens up departments to unnecessary liability.
However, training with live less lethals quickly becomes expensive. Spent Axon® TASER® cartridges and OC canisters pile up with extensive officer use, along with the cost. Then there are the decontamination and risk of injury concerns. But what’s an agency to do when this training is required?
VirTra offers a cost and time-efficient way to train in less lethals—in addition to judgmental use of force, verbal de-escalation, active shooters and more. Law enforcement officers can enter the simulator equipped with TASER and OC spray to train in situations that would require a less lethal option. They can also use our ballistically accurate V-Marksmanship system to hone the mechanics of less-lethal deployment.
Enabling an officer to train using all the tools on their tool belt provides more than an understanding of how to work a less lethal accessory; it provides decision-making training and enhanced realism. The enhanced realism is two-fold, comprising of both physical and psychological fidelity.
The psychological fidelity comes from the officer knowing they can engage in a variety of de-escalation and less lethal options, and the subjects on screen will react accordingly. Instructors can add another element of psychological fidelity by utilizing the patented Threat-Fire® on trainees to increase stress.
As for the physical fidelity, VirTra’s technology allows officers to use their duty weapons and TASER inside the simulator—once they are outfitted with the corresponding drop-in replacement. For example, VirTra’s patent-pending TASER simulation training cartridges are direct drop-in replacements for live cartridges on real Axon X2 and X26P TASERs. See more TASER features here.
As for the OC spray, VirTra offers laser-based OC spray training devices, which are placed in the SABRE®MK3 OC canister. The canister size, weight, activation button pressure and launch angle all match the actual OEM MK3 canister to increase realism while reducing training scars.
By utilizing TASER drop-in replacements and OC training devices, departments can train in less lethal all day without having to throw away a single cartridge.
There are many scenarios designed to teach the implementation of less lethal tools. One scenario is where officers respond to a scene where an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) is holding a knife to his chest and threatening to harm himself and others.
Scenarios like this are effective training tools, as they move beyond simple shoot/don’t shoot situations and prompt skills like scene control, contact and cover concepts and de-escalation. With the EDP scenario, watch as the officers communicate with the subject on screen. After attempts to verbally de-escalate the situation, and after the subject begins to escalate, the officer can use her TASER and the character on screen reacts realistically.
This is what training with VirTra is like. Realistic training with realistic tools in realistic situations.
Learn more about less lethal training and how it can improve your training program while saving money by contacting a VirTra specialist.
Law enforcement officers often encounter dangerous or complicated situations that require them to use force. However, use of force is only to be used for specific reasons, such as defense of self, the defense of another, to prevent the destruction of evidence, prevent suicide or to take a person into custody.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police defines use of force as the “amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.” Definitions of use of force are often vague due to each situation and officer being different. In a potentially threatening situation, officers may use physical force to mitigate the situation, make an arrest, or protect themselves or society from harm, though they must use only the amount of force that is objectively reasonable to obtain lawful objectives. Excessive use of force is a dangerous and by its own definition…unjustifiable.
In order to aid their mission to serve and protect, police have a wide array of force options in their toolbelts, both literally and figuratively. These options allow police to select and implement the right force option depending on what the situation requires. All force options can be broken up into the following use of force categories:
Verbal commands are different from verbal de-escalation. Whereas verbal de-escalation is meant to diffuse the situation, and should be used first if possible, verbal force commands such as “stop”, “don’t move,” “you’re under arrest,” etc. are more forceful. The officer’s posture and tone should be stern, firm, though it may escalate to shouting and shortened commands in an attempt to gain compliance. These only work if someone chooses to comply.
Empty hand control includes wrist locks, pressure points, and other come-a-long techniques. This can be broken up further in to soft and hard techniques. Hard empty hand control includes strikes and are typically associated with active aggression on the part of the subject being controlled.
Officers can utilize chemical force, depending on their department’s policies. Chemical weapons are usually sprays or projectiles embedded with chemicals to disburse a crowd or gain compliance of a suspect, with the most common chemical weapon being pepper spray. Due to their restraining and less harmful nature, chemical force falls under the less lethal category.
Similar to chemical weapons, law enforcement officers may have an Axon® TASER®, stun gun or similar electronic device in their toolbelt, if permitted by the department. Also similar to chemical weapon, electronic tools are under the less lethal category. This form of force is beneficial in establishing control of a situation where the subject may be harming themselves, others or the officer.
Firearms are placed directly in the lethal category and are to be used by officers only when the officer reasonably believes the subject poses a significant threat of serious bodily injury, or death, to themselves or others. If the situation permits, officers are encouraged to begin with other force options before resorting to lethal options. However, all situations are different, forcing officers to rely on state law, knowledge and training in determining which force option to use.
VirTra is working hard to provide officers with the most beneficial, realistic use of force training . Each simulator is designed to build an officer’s skills and transfer that knowledge to the field. Each VirTra simulator is designed to work with a variety of force options, allowing officers to practice real-life situations with their full duty belt. For example, departments can utilize special TASER drop-in kits that make department-issued TASERS able to interact with the simulator, allowing officers to practice electronic control device.
Other accessories and tools include CO2 canisters, batons, etc. For situations that require use of a firearm, trainers can utilize a drop-in recoil kit and CO2 magazine, which fit into the duty weapon and convert it from a live weapon to a simulator-ready firearm. Learn more about these training tools by contacting a VirTra representative.
The phrases “Non-Lethal” and “Less Lethal” are used by law enforcement and military agencies worldwide. But what exactly does each phrase mean? Are these phrases interchangeable or apply to different products?
The answer is surprisingly simple: there is no force option that is completely non-lethal.
One of the best definitions of less lethal is “any use of force other than that which is considered deadly force that involves physical effort to control, restrain, or overcome the resistance of another.” ¹ This definition encompasses force such as an officer’s manual restraint, electronic control weapons, aerosol spray and impact projectiles.
However, you may be wondering how these tools are designed to overcome a subject rather than cause harm, why they are specifically called “less lethal” instead of “non-lethal”.
Think about physical restraint. If you tackle a suspect and handcuff them, if done wrong or if the subject has a pre-existing medical condition, it could kill them. Or if you try to gain control over a situation by using OC spray and the subject suffers an allergic reaction, it could kill them.
This same concept applies to Axon® TASER®, batons and so forth. While these instances are extremely miniscule, the possibility still exists. From a legal standpoint, it is safer and smarter to refer to these tools as “less lethal” rather than placing them in the “non-lethal” category.
However, these examples barely scratch the surface of less-lethal tools. According to the National Institute of Justice², there are seven types of less lethal device technologies:
• Conducted Energy Devices—encompasses TASERs, stun guns and stun belts
• Directed Energy Devices—radiated energy to achieve same effect as blunt force, with lower likelihood of injury
• Chemicals—pepper spray (OC), tear gas and stink bombs
• Distraction—laser dazzlers, bright lights or noise
• Vehicle-Stopping Technology—equipment that stops cars during high-speed chases
• Barriers—nets, foams and other physical barriers
• Blunt Force—projectiles in crowd-control to deter certain actions
Each tool is designed to mitigate harm while allowing law enforcement to gain control over a situation. Depending on agency policy and the unique situation, officers may choose which less lethal tool to utilize.
You may still be wondering about agencies that use the phrase “non-lethal”. The only organization that consistently uses that phrase is the military³. This is due to the terminology describing certain categories of weapons. While there is no clear policy as to why this phrase is used primarily over others, it could possibly be due to the nature of their missions.
VirTra’s judgmental use of force simulators are designed to train using the entire use of force spectrum. Officers are encouraged to start with de-escalation to “stabilize the situation and reduce the immediacy of the threat”¹ without the use of force.
However, certain subjects may not comply or situations may hinder de-escalation tactics. In these cases, officers may react with the next best option: less lethal.
The less lethal tools provided to officers depends on the agency, though they most likely include TASERs, OC and similar. Knowing this, VirTra designed less lethal accessories that are compatible with the simulator, allowing trainees and seasoned officers alike to train with all the tools found in their duty belt at the same time.
VirTra offers two different TASER training tools: the V-TX2 and V-X26P (TASER 7 is in development). These products are drop-in replacements for the Axon TASER X2 and X26P, respectively. The cartridge probes allow for precise aiming and realistic targeting within the system, while providing proper form fit without modification to live TASER handles. In regards to the scenario, subjects who are hit with a TASER react accordingly, for the most realistic training possible.
While the TASER training options are drop-in replacements for duty TASERs, the OC training device is different. Instead, this device is a separate tool created by VirTra. While it is not a drop-in replacement, the accessory is still placed in a SABRE® MK3 OC canister, with proper activation button pressure and proper weight for maximum realism while mitigating training scars. Similar to TASERs, on-screen subjects react accordingly when hit with OC spray.
VirTra offers a variety of other less lethal training accessories to maximize training sessions, including impact munitions and 12g, 37mm and 40mm. For more information about each accessory, please contact a VirTra representative.
High quality law enforcement training is more than what is shown on the screens. While the video and graphics are high-quality, the screens alone do not provide the most immersive experience possible for law enforcement trainees. To create the most powerful law enforcement training environment, VirTra’s engineers and subject matter experts work tirelessly to design and perfect hardware that is then paired with the simulator. Each piece of hardware manufactured in-house is tested and designed to replicate the true feel and accuracy of the tool it represents.
VirTra’s durable recoil kits and CO2 magazines transform officer’s duty weapons from live fire to simulation-ready in under two minutes. These kits require no permanent modification, allowing officers to practice utilizing their own weapon while saving departments money.
The kit allows the firearm to communicate with the training simulator, while the CO2 magazine provides the realistic recoil. The recoil provided is the best in the industry, providing officers with a true-to-life experience while saving money on ammunition and improving safety, as the gun foregoes blanks.
Since VirTra manufacturers recoil kits and magazine for a majority of popular on-duty weapons, police can practice using a whole arsenal, from pistols to rifles. For rifles, the recoil kits are integrated into the duty weapon by removing the bolt carrier group and replacing it with VirTra’s kit. As for pistols, the recoil kits are designed as barrel replacements.
Law Enforcement officers can practice utilizing their whole toolbelt inside VirTra’s simulators. After all, VirTra is so much more than a shoot-don’t-shoot simulator—instead, each simulator is programmed with a variety of scenarios that allow and encourage trainees to practice using Axon® TASER® and OC spray. Each less-lethal device is laser-based and equipped with an OEM form, thus replicating the size and weight of the same tools used in the field to minimize training scars.
For TASERs, VirTra’s cartridges simply drop into the existing TASER X2 or VX26P. The intelligent software allows instructors to see where the simulated probes landed, even when multiple students are using TASERs simultaneously in the simulation.
As for OC, every aspect from the size of the can to the placement of the button replicates the SABRE® MK3 OC spray. This includes the angle of the spray, which is perfectly positioned to allow training skills learned in the simulator to transfer to life in the field.
VirTra’s patented Threat-Fire reminds law enforcement trainees that simulation training is not a game. The Threat-Fire is a lightweight device that clips onto a trainee’s belt and is used to simulate return fire, dog bites, explosions and other consequences. This serves to elevate an officer’s heart rate and cause stress, mimicking psychological environments.
This tool is a more powerful teaching device than traditional “shoot back” devices. Other consequence devices shoot projectiles, which can cause injury, or produce vibrations or noises, which are ineffective. Instead, the Threat-Fire trains officers to continue performing even under stressful conditions, making it incredibly valuable for all training environments.
Unfortunately, many subject encounters occur in less-than-ideal times, such as at night. Instructors can incorporate the use of rail-mounted or handheld flashlights within any VirTra scenario to truly replicate real-life conditions and encourage practice in low-light environments.
VirTra offers both handheld and rail-mounted flashlights with adjustable illumination for beams of different shapes and sizes. Each light is laser-operated and projects onto the screen accurately, even when multiple trainees are using flashlights simultaneously in the same simulator. This is due to V-Lux™ technology, which allows the beam of light to transfer smoothly and accurately across the screens.
VirTra is so much more than a simulator training company. With state-of-the-art technology, realistic lethal and less lethal tools, consequence devices and more, law enforcement trainees are better prepared for the field. For more information on how you can maximize your VirTra simulator with high-tech equipment, contact a specialist today.