Good judgment is about being aware of and understanding your environment and taking action based on changes to your situation. In law enforcement, this is adaptive decision-making and is the foundation for recognizing a threat, taking the appropriate action, and effectively transitioning to alternative options when necessary.

Use of Force Research

In a recent Police Executive Research Forum report of Guiding Principles on Use of Force, researchers stressed the need to challenge conventional thinking on police use of force. This report noted that in nearly all of the use-of-force incidents that have proved controversial, the officers should not be faulted because their actions reflected the training they received. Instead, they called for changes in training that provide officers with better tools for handling difficult situations.

To that end, officers must hone their skills so that they can conduct realistic and reasonable threat assessments that will lead to better decisions including when to escalate or utilize de-escalation techniques. While law enforcement should attempt to de-escalate where appropriate, officers must also be able to quickly recognize what force options are available and will work best for any situation.

This is where we should begin to look at training from an adaptive decision-making standpoint to develop a thought-process to quickly transition to appropriate force. It is often the lack of proper training, including reality-based training, that leads to an unnecessary escalation of force or the lack of appropriate force when needed.

Law Enforcement & Military Training

Any coach will tell you that how someone trains will determine how they react in the moment. And research tells us that proper training will improve use-of-force decision-making. In order to ensure the best outcome in any police-citizen encounter, police need to be trained on how to critically think about analyzing the risk of a situation and how to quickly transition from variable force options.

The goal is to develop critical thinking skills to better equip the officer in making strategic decisions to mitigate threats and split-second decisions in rapidly evolving situations that could not be avoided. This is accomplished through realistic, open-ended scenarios in which all force and non-force options are available to resolve the threat.

Simulation training is part of a larger shift in how officers are training in adaptive decision-making. However, most simulation systems leave a void in quality technology and content.

VirTra technology fills this void with an effective simulation training system that includes intense, realistic scenarios using a combination of state-of-the-art visual and audio technology. Our team works closely with law enforcement to ensure our scenario-based training content is superior in quality, realism, immersion, and relevance.

Contact VirTra today to arrange a demo on how our technology can help improve your officers’ decision-making ability and develop skills to transition from different force options.