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.

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.

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.

In 1998, Deputy Kyle Dinkheller was fatally shot during a traffic stop. The aftermath left his family and colleagues heartbroken, but his death was not in vain. The incident brought on a deeper look into police training, agency culture, and much more. In this way, Deputy Dinkheller has saved lives even after his passing.

The Incident and How it Became an Important Training Lesson

One of the first officer involved critical incidents recorded on a dashcam, 22-year-old Dinkheller struggled to control Vietnam combat veteran Andrew Brannan. Eventually Brannan retrieved a gun from his vehicle and ultimately shot and killed Dinkheller. You can watch the full video here.

It is important to keep in mind that officers had different tools in 1998. Almost no officers carried ECW / CEW devices and the use of a baton (like the one Dinkheller used) was more common. Still, there were several lessons to be learned by future officers, making this event more than just an unfortunate story.

Lessons Learned

  • Take care when calling for backup. Do it at an appropriate time and not when you should be addressing the threat. You may also want to call when a subject is not within earshot, if possible. During this incident, Brannan flew into a rage when he heard Dinkheller request backup on his radio.
  • Do not allow the subject to move around freely. Unless you have stated they can get back in their vehicle, they should not have the opportunity to walk back to their car – let alone reach in to retrieve something.
  • Command with Confidence. When reviewing the dashcam footage, it is apparent that Dinkheller’s voice sounds shaky and unsure. With a more commanding approach, you may be less likely to be challenged.
  • Position yourself and the subject appropriately. When speaking with the subject outside of the vehicle, standing between the two cars could put you both at risk. If a car were to rear end your squad, you may be pinned between the two cars. Be sure to allow space for reaction time in case the subject decides to run towards their vehicle or you.
  • Leadership and policies can impact officers’ actions. At one time, Dinkheller was forced to write an apology letter after stopping someone who was friends with the Sheriff. Unnecessary or inappropriate discipline like this can cause an officer to hesitate to take action.

VirTra’s “My Story”

The new course “My Story: Kyle Dinkheller” gives officers a different perspective of the incident that has been in so many training videos. The coursework is accompanied by a true-to-life scenario with more than 50 branching options. The traffic stop scenario allows for the officer to use de-escalation, less lethal tools, or lethal force depending on what the situation requires.

To obtain this coursework, you must be a current VirTra customer and on an Annual Service Plan. For more information, visit this webpage.

 

We talk A LOT about training in law enforcement. Academy training, the field training program for new officers, annual training, specialized training…heck, even this training article you’re reading right now! But here is the brutal truth: we don’t train enough. Not even close to what we should be doing.

Want a recent example? In 2022 there was an active shooter incident in Uvalde, Texas. After the incident, there was a lot of talk about how officers responded at the scene. An investigation into the responding officers training found that half of them have never been through active shooter training.

If we all agree that training is so important, then why don’t we do more? Why do officers in the United States fall so far behind their counterparts around the world when it comes to training hours? Money.

A recent study found that 97% of police agencies budgets went toward salary and benefits, leaving 3% for all other expenditures, including training. (Urban Institute, n.d.) In recent years there has been a call for agencies to spend more money on training their officers, but we are still not where we should be.

Now, let’s look at how much time a recruit may spend in an academy for their training. In the U.S., the average length of basic police training is around 800 hours, or 20-22 weeks. (Emily D. Buehler, 2021) I wanted to know how this compared to other jobs that had required training, so I looked a few of them up. To get your barber license: 1500 hours. To be a licensed plumber: 4 years of experience.

Ok, ok, so maybe a barber needs more hours than an officer. Surely, we’re in line with the rest of the world when it comes to officer training. Right? Not. Even. Close.

Canada requires around 1,000 hours. England is between 2,000 and 2,500 hours. 3,500 hours in Australia. And in India, Finland, and Dubai, you’re looking at around 5,000 hours of training to become an officer.

Something doesn’t seem to add up. Why would we want police officers out there without a significant amount of training? Ok, yes, officers need 2 years of secondary schooling as well, but think about how much of those two years really falls into “training” and is useful on the job.

As trainers, we need to speak up and demand that more time and resources are available to properly train officers. Multiple studies show that more training makes it safer for officers and the people they interact with. It also reduces liability on the city, county, or state that the officers work for, since well-trained officers are less likely to be sued.

If you can’t get more money, you can still get more training in. Roll-call training, mid-shift training, and online classes all can be done for little to no cost. Training doesn’t have to come in 4-hour blocks. 15 minutes here and there can really add up. If you want to send officers to training that may have a financial impact, check with your neighboring departments to see if there may be a discount for larger groups.

If you’re interested in simulation training, which can be very cost effective, look for grants that can help fund the purchase of a VirTra simulator. With the IADLEST certified V-VICTA® training curriculum included, your officers can spend less time planning and preparing for classes, and more time doing the training.

Stay safe. Stay dedicated.

 

References

Emily D. Buehler, P. D. (2021). State and Local Law Enforcement Training Academies, 2018. U.S. Department of Justice.

Urban Institute. (n.d.). Criminal Justice Expenditures: Police, Corrections, and Courts. Retrieved from Urban.org: https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/state-and-local- finance-initiative/state-and-local-backgrounders/criminal-justice-police-corrections-courts- expenditures

Courts have been hearing cases about failure to intervene for years – as far back as 1972. All courts have ruled that officers have a duty to intervene when there is a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. This includes during excessive or unnecessary application of force.

There are various reasons people may not intervene when a fellow officer is acting out of conduct. Maybe they don’t know they should, or they freeze up. Sometimes there is a negative culture in the agency that prevents them – consciously or unconsciously – from reporting an incident or stopping the offense.

The why, when, what, and how are all important to know when discussing an officer’s duty to intervene. When training, we look at past examples of what went wrong, then adjust accordingly in order to avoid making the same mistakes. Instructors must also show examples where proper intervention took place in order to see how these applications can work in the real world.

 

Why Do We Intervene?

When you fail to intervene, it does not only affect the victim, it affects both legally and morally, plus the entire agency may be subject to distrust from the community. It goes against what is  an officer’s code of conduct, as they joined the force to protect the community they serve.

As we have seen over the years with various failure to intervene cases, there is a national (and sometimes international) spotlight when things go wrong. These include notable incidents such as the Rodney King and George Floyd cases. In both, one or more officers allowed an instance of unnecessary or unreasonable amount of force to occur and continue.

The most important reasons why duty to intervene matters:

  • An officer’s moral, ethical, and legal duty
  • Officers are held to a higher standard by the public and courts
  • Community trust should be valued and kept
  • Keeping everyone safe, both citizens and officers
  • You can save someone else’s career – and your own

Why Do Intervention Policies Sometimes Fail?

Despite rules being in place, issues can still happen and it is important to understand why. Your department should place value in those who come forward when something is wrong, but occasionally, there is a “code of silence” or people become worried of repercussions for reporting someone.

Nobody should have to fear retaliation for doing the right thing. Some agency cultures can make officers feel that they cannot report someone who is higher in seniority, or that they will be treated like a “snitch.” These are things that can be discussed with officers of all ranks, ensuring everyone knows that duty to intervene applies to everyone regardless of rank or status.

Lastly, leadership influences the success of policies. If it’s all lip service and things don’t actually change, nothing is accomplished. In fact, not sticking to the policies you create and discuss can lower officers’ trust in their leadership. Supervisors should enforce the policies and create a culture of feeling empowered to step up when seeing something wrong.

How to Approach Training

Officers should detect the need to intervene early in the event before trouble starts. Signs of anger and use of profanity could indicate that the officer is starting to let their emotions get the best of them. The EPIC model (ethical policing is courageous) suggests using a 10-code that can signal to the other officer that they need to calm down. “Sgt. Smith, 10-12!” or similar can get their attention without alerting others or causing embarrassment.

VirTra has given its law enforcement clients an opportunity to practice their understanding of when to intervene. Certified in early 2023, “Duty to Intervene: No Such Thing as a Professional Bystander” gives users an interactive and engaging way to learn. It combines training videos and multiple immersive scenarios to give officers the experience in a safe learning environment.

Professional intervention is important and is used in other fields besides policing, even in medical and aviation settings. It can save your job, your partner’s job, and the wellbeing of the community you serve. If you would like to get started with VirTra and begin training Duty to Intervene and other important topics, contact a specialist.

 

References:

EPIC – Ethical Policing Is Courageous. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://epic.nola.gov

Galindez v. City of Hartford (U.S. Dist LEXIS 17592 2003).

 

Law enforcement comes into contact with a plethora of different types of people daily. Because of this, it is necessary for them to receive as much training as possible on how to respectively interact with each unique individual they might encounter.

Those on the autism spectrum may be mistaken with a different type of case when they come in contact with law enforcement – such as drug use. According to a study done from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, by age 21, one in five young adults with autism had been stopped and questioned by police¹. This a why officers must be trained on how to identify and interact with individuals on the spectrum.

 

Knowing the Signs

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can make communication and social situations difficult for those diagnosed. Individuals may also display behaviors such as hand flapping, rocking back and forth, avoiding eye contact, resistance to direction, and more. But because no two cases are alike, there is no “stereotype” to autistic behavior. This makes it that much more important for officers to be educated on what autistic behavior might look like and how to respond accordingly.

VirTra understands the importance of law enforcement receiving this kind of training. VirTra partnered with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) to create a curriculum for officers to learn the signs and learn the various ways to respond to a call with someone on the spectrum.

This partnership was our way of ensuring that our curriculum contained accurate information regarding ASD and would effectively support both officers and those diagnosed with ASD.

 

Certified Autism Training for Law Enforcement

Officers can receive 2 hours of certified curriculum through the VirTra simulators.  There is walkthrough training with SARRC CEO Daniel Openden and additional scenarios for officers to put their new skills to the test. All of the actors in the scenarios actually have autism, giving officers real life examples of autistic behavior on a scene.

VirTra now has two ways for you to access this training! If your agency is looking to purchase a simulator, this curriculum comes along with it (and so many more)!

Not ready to purchase a system quite yet? You can access the course by signing up for Certified Training Alliance , an online learning platform for First Responders!

If you would like to learn more about VirTra’s curriculum and simulators, contact a VirTra specialist.

During and after the pandemic, people became much more aware of how many disease can spread. Mitigating the spread of disease as a first responder goes beyond just COVID-19. Officers are in close contact with many people, and any of them could – knowingly or unknowingly – have an infectious disease.

Understanding the diseases and sicknesses that are at the highest risk for law enforcement officers to obtain is the start. Officers also benefit from understanding how diseases can spread and what the signs and symptoms are.

VirTra’s “Infectious Diseases” course provides 4 hours of material for officers to learn from. There are also 3 associated scenarios to help officers practice interactions.

 

Common Diseases and Infections

Disease can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi. Viral infections are a common way for first responders to become sick due to contact with the public. HIV, tuberculosis, COVID-19, hepatitis, and the common cold are some examples of viruses obtained through direct or indirect contact.

To become infected with a virus/bacteria, typically one of the following contacts have occurred:

  • Exposed to the saliva or respiratory droplets of an infected person. This can happen when the person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks loudly in close proximity. Tuberculosis and COVID-19 may spread in this manner.
  • Contact with the blood, urine, or excrement of an infected person. This occurs when a person encounters an unclean environment that contains traces of the listed substances. It can also happen if pricked with a needle used by a person with the disease or if these substances come in contact with an open wound. Hepatitis and HIV may be spread this way.
  • Contact with an animal carrying the virus. A scratch or bite that exposes you to the saliva can transfer a viral infection. Rabies is a virus spread in this manner. Animal excrement may also carry disease.
  • Consuming contaminated food may lead to both viral or bacterial diseases. E. coli and some Hepatitis variants may be obtained through contaminated or expired food.

The list above is certainly not exhaustive. Some organisms may even linger on objects that were handled by someone with a virus. This is why it is important to take reasonable precautions if there is a risk of becoming ill.

 

Preventing the Spread of Diseases

While it is not always foolproof, there are several ways to greatly mitigate the spread of disease. Decreasing the risk of infection can be as simple as washing your hands or avoiding touching your nose and mouth.

Washing your hands frequently – not just when you believe you have touched a sick person – is important. If you unconsciously touch your face with unclean hands or eat without washing them, you could pick up an organism. Make sure your hands are either thoroughly washed with soap, or that you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Using personal protective equipment (PPE) may be necessary to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces or airborne particles. Gloves, face masks, and eye protection are some examples of PPE that can be used on the field if needed. N-95-rated masks may be required for specific organisms to be effective.

It is also recommended that you stay home if you feel ill. You may have a weak immune system and expose yourself to other viruses, plus you may spread a virus to other colleagues. If you are predisposed to infection or have a weakened immune system, taking more precautions helps you better prepare for possible exposure to germs.

 

VirTra’s Infectious Diseases Simulated Scenarios

Our V-VICTA® course, Infectious Diseases, allows not only for classroom learning, but for real world practice. Some scenarios deal with an individual coughing, letting the officer decide how to handle the situation while protecting themselves. Another deals with irate people who do not wish to comply with a business’ PPE rules.

The scenarios help supplement the learning of this important topic. The course comes with an entire manual containing instructor guides, note taking materials, tests, scoring rubrics, and more. Even better? When the course is completed, students receive a certificate of completion and earn NCP credit.

If you are interested in VirTra’s coursework and want to learn how to incorporate it into your agency’s training regime, contact a specialist.

When training your officers, it is a priority to ensure that they receive quality de-escalation training with a curriculum that contains applicable and reliable knowledge. Creating your own curriculum is a process – it takes time, it takes money and both of those are valuable things that you would like to save! On the other hand, when looking at purchasing a curriculum, there is a chance that some courses may have not gone through a certification de-escalation training for police process that meets State and POST requirements for de-escalation training.

With all these factors to consider, you may be wondering what the right answer is. That is where VirTra’s V-VICTA® curriculum comes in. Our curriculum mitigates 60+ hours of research, prep and approvals of instructor man hours per one hour of finished curriculum. It also optimizes training session time for maximum learning.

 

Training Certification

On top of those benefits, VirTra puts our V-VICTA courses through a rigorous approval process with IADLEST. IADLEST offers the National Certification Program (NCP) of which sets a high standard in providing quality education for law enforcement nationwide. This means that all of our courses are equipped with extensive training materials for your team to work through.

NCP certified courses are also accepted by all participating POST organizations providing a trustworthy, time and cost-effective way for your officers to earn their certification de-escalation training for police.

VirTra is also the only simulator company that provides a certified curriculum for law enforcement, which is free when included with our training simulators.

 

Bring Your Training to Life

In our training simulators, officers can put their certification de-escalation training for police to practice with intensive training scenarios. Our professionally-produced scenarios include real actors simulating real-world situations. Most of the scenarios contain on average over 85 different branching options based on the officer’s actions. In the scenarios, trainees must use quick decision-making skills to de-escalate the situation to the best of their ability.

The additional scenario training adds immense value to the curriculum by allowing officers to test their classroom knowledge in a stress-inducing environment, preparing them for the real-world.

 

Online Training Courses

If your department does not have the current means for a VirTra simulator but still wants to experience our V-VICTA curriculum, you have another option!  

VirTra partnered with other industry-leading partners to develop Certified Training Alliance (CTA). CTA is an online training program for law enforcement that officers can train through at their own pace, wherever they want! Including certified courses generated from our V-VICTA curricula such as Autism Awareness, Crisis De-escalation, 10 different Mental Illness courses, and more.  

You may also find courses from Force Science and Tony Blauer. It’s FREE to sign up and browse the courses online.  

Click here to sign up for Certified Training Alliance!

and if you want to learn more about online training program for law enforcement and VirTra’s V-VICTA curriculum, contact a VirTra specialist today!