Before becoming a law enforcement officer, there are a few pathways students can take. Usually, they will study Criminal Justice in college before attending a police academy. Some students, however, begin their interest in a law enforcement career early enough and begin learning in high school. Career and technical education (CTE) programs have allowed high school students to take courses based on individual interests – including law enforcement.

Tom White of Taft Union High School in California understands the unique learning needs of high school-aged students and has combined that knowledge with the technology and efficiency of a VirTra simulator. Using a V-100® simulator, White’s students have improved their communication skills and better understand the split-second decision-making processes that officers go through on a day-to-day basis.

White was able to fund the V-100 through grant funds, assuring that there are grants available for CTE programs. Additionally, White is currently in the process of obtaining a grant for a V-DTS™ – VirTra’s Driver Training Simulator—to allow for further realism in training and expects to have the Driver Simulator in the next few months.

“You can’t take a student into the field at 16 or 17. Having the driver simulator allows me to simulate them in their own squad car and simulate a call going out on the radio” said White, whose goal is to have students operating the V-DTS when answering a call, then traveling to the destination. Then, students will step out of the V-DTS and enter the V-100 to “respond” to the situation.

Although the V-DTS is still in the purchasing process, simply using the V-100 has allowed White to see notable results and improvement in decision making skills and communication fluency. He has seen 25-30% of his students develop leadership qualities and the ability to confidently give direction. Being able to practice in a simulated environment that is both safe and realistic will allow young students to develop the proper mindsets and prepare themselves early on for a difficult but rewarding career in law enforcement.

Martial arts are ubiquitous with the idea of a highly trained master passing on knowledge to the young inexperienced pupil. This is the way martial arts systems work and has since the formal training schools were established. The sheer volumes of movies documenting examples of this relationship may never be counted.

VirTra hosts some of the industry’s best and brightest subject matter experts (SME) in the mission to ensure law enforcement has access to the best training possible so the communities they serve benefit. These SMEs make up the VirTra Training and Curriculum department. One of the philosophies of VirTra’s Training & Curriculum department is that “When the Master is no longer the Student, they are no longer the Master.” This is why two of VirTra’s own SME’s are traveling to the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) conference this week to conduct and attend some of the best training offered to law enforcement.

ILEETA is one of the industry leaders in offering training to a group of international law enforcement trainers. This annual conference is attended by some of the world’s best trainers and coordinators. Our trainers are looking forward to learning from and presenting to this elite group of people.

The ILEETA mission statement is:

“As an organization, ILEETA is committed to the reduction of law enforcement risk through the enhancement of training for criminal justice practitioners.

As ILEETA members, we are fully committed to the saving of lives through the development and delivery of high-quality training.

As training and education professionals, we are committed to the safety and security of our fellow citizens, and improved understanding between society and the criminal justice professions.”

SME TJ Alioto is presenting a course on “Technology and Training” and Director of Training & Curriculum Lon Bartel is presenting on “Deliberate and Purposeful Practice.” VirTra is thrilled to attend, present, and sponsor this year’s annual ILEETA conference. We hope to see our fellow trainers here.


This article was written by Lon Bartel, VirTra’s Director of Training & Curriculum. Out of his 20-year career as a police officer, he was a Rangemaster for 12 of those years, specializing in firearms and less-lethal training along with control tactics. Additionally, he has been a certified law enforcement trainer for over 18 years of his career.

As an IADLEST Nationally Certified Instructor, Mr. Bartel was instrumental in creating the IADLEST certified V-VICTA program. He has been certified by the Force Science Institute as a Use of Force Analyst and an Advanced Specialist.

A total of 63 students enrolled in the Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Arizona State University visited VirTra’s headquarters last year to experience the technology in action. The students eagerly crowded around the five-screen V-300® to watch as their fellow classmates ran through a scenario. On the opposite side of the room, more students were practicing marksmanship on the three-screen V-180®.

ASU & VirTra Criminal Justice Partnership

ASU has visited VirTra for the past three years, allowing their criminal justice students to learn from hands-on experience rather than through a lecture. Professor of Practice Bob Robson and Associate Professor Dr. Danielle Wallace watched as their students enjoyed interacting with the simulators, knowing that this experience brought a lot of understanding to their studies. Both professors know some of these students – mostly juniors and seniors – could become officers one day and believe that experiencing reality-based training scenarios and the stress they bring will prepare them for the future.

“Taking students through the scenarios that real police officers go through…For them to have this experience early on gives them a better sense of what reality is all about” said Professor Robson, noting that the students in his class may end up in law enforcement or as attorneys. “My class is a Police Accountability course, and this is the perfect place to learn.”

How Criminal Justice Students Benefit

Criminal Justice students – such as the class from ASU – can benefit tremendously from VirTra’s training curriculum and simulators. Training provided by a simulator cannot be replicated through a lecture. Students must experience what it is like on the field using technology that brings them as close to real life as it gets. “I want them to interact,” said Professor Robson. “They’ve never had an opportunity to learn the stresses and strains that a police officer has to go under with only seconds to think.”

Universities may have the opportunity to purchase a simulator through state contracts or police training funds. It is applicable for both university police and classroom use, as both future and current law enforcement officials can train. Whether instructors choose to put students through heart-racing scenarios or practice marksmanship, Criminal Justice students can learn best in a simulated environment that allows them to experience stress inoculation and practice judgmental use-of-force decision making to better understand life on the force.

College is a time of learning, growth, discovery, and for many budding law enforcement officers, an opportunity to receive a taste of what life on the force entails. As technology becomes more integrated into classrooms, many Criminal Justice programs have incorporated decision-making and firearms simulators into their curriculum. This provides students with a more hands-on education.

Integrating VirTra in the Classroom

Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming is one of the many colleges that use VirTra simulators in their programs. However, they were a very early adopter of this progressive technology of VirTra’s simulators since almost a decade ago. Dave Patterson, one of the Criminal Justice Instructors, is a former 20 year law enforcement and SWAT officer who specialized in firearm case law and instruction. Now an Instructor, Patterson has seen some incredible changes upon integrating VirTra technology. This is especially true with his recent upgrade enhancement and new V-VICTA curriculum he integrates into the curriculum.

Patterson utilizes the immersive, five-screen V-300® to teach his courses: Firearms 1, 2 and 3. These courses range from introductory firearm practices and principles to an intermediate demonstration and understanding of critical judgment and weapon handling in stressful situations. The 300-degree simulator tests and trains trainee’s knowledge and physical skills through scenarios and marksmanship courses.

For Patterson, most of the focus is on marksmanship. Each class meets three days each week for 16 weeks, receiving hundreds of hours of practice and instruction by the semester’s end. To pass the class, students must pass a practical examination on maintenance and perform on the State Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) pistol course at an 80% standard.

According to Patterson, in order to show transferability to actual firearms performance, his staff conducts end-of-semester live fire tests at an outdoor range. The students practiced learning on the V-300 simulator all semester using CO2 and drop-in laser recoil kits. Then they handled a loaded live gun and practiced aiming at physical targets.

The remarkable part of this story is how during Patterson’s 2018 Fall and Spring semesters, roughly 70% of his students began with little or no pistol experience prior to the course. But by the end of the semester, the average on-range POST score was over 90%. Through extensive practice and use of VirTra’s simulation, students learned transferrable skills at a higher percentage than expected and in years prior.

The Benefits of System Upgrades

Recently, Patterson upgraded his real-world V-300 system with the latest hardware and software. “When the upgrade occurred, functionality had increased. Students were able to push through the course faster,” said Patterson. “What was originally a class of eight bumped up to twelve. I may be able to eliminate an entire class due to students cycling through the course faster.”

By potentially consolidating three courses into two, this will save money for the school and students while increasing class size to accommodate more who want to learn.

Like other VirTra customers, Patterson upgraded his legacy system after five years to receive the latest hardware and software improvements. This update has allowed him to maximize training and classroom learning. The software update included the latest V-VICTA® training curriculum, IADLEST-certified coursework, which covers a variety of Law Enforcement topics. For Patterson, his most-utilized courses are Contact & Cover, Dog Behaviors, Axon® TASER® training and case law.

As for the hardware update, this included the latest version of the Threat-Fire® consequence device. This small electric impulse device provides immediate consequences during training, often helping participants understand the potential personal harm. Patterson regards the Threat-Fire as a powerful teaching tool, noting, “Everyone thought it wasn’t real until they tried on the Threat-Fire.” This pain penalty assists Patterson’s students in taking the simulator seriously, thus focusing on learning skills transferrable to real life.

VirTra’s powerful, real-world scenarios increase training, learning and understanding in college classrooms just as they do in departments worldwide. Upgrades on legacy systems allow agencies to experience the latest software and hardware for a more immersive, accurate experience. For Patterson, it also gave the bonus of expediting students through the courses, better qualification scores and excitement to take the course resulting in the need for class expansion. For more information on training with VirTra, contact us.

Students studying criminal justice typically seek employment in one of three of the major components: law enforcement, the court system, or the criminal corrections system. In any of these three cases, use of force simulators in the classroom can enhance their knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of criminal justice in several ways.

The Criminal Justice System in the Media

Criminal justice students, just like everyone else, pick up the newspaper, read stories online, or watch the news. Thanks to the prevalence of media today, there are plenty of stories about how a police officer made the wrong choice, costing someone his or her life, or how a judge was too lenient (or too harsh) with a sentence, or even how a corrections officer abused his or her authority. Sometimes, these stories are founded in truth. Other times, they are media observations and second-hand stories of events. Either way, police officers, judges, and even corrections officers spend a lot of time in the limelight, and more often than not, it’s negative.

How Use of Force Simulators Help Each of the Three Components

Because not all criminal justice students will inevitably become law enforcement officials, it is important to examine how the students destined for the judicial and corrections systems can benefit from judgmental use of force training simulators.

  • Law Enforcement – Students who will inevitably go into law enforcement are on the front lines. These are the individuals who will face dangerous situations each and every day, even during routine traffic stops. Judgmental use of force simulation trains them to deescalate situations appropriately depending on the suspect’s behaviors, actions, and the unique situation.
  • Judicial System – Though judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and others aren’t directly in the line of fire, they can also benefit from use of force training simulation. When these individuals better understand the pressures and the situations law enforcement officials face, they can make better decisions themselves, whether their duties involve prosecuting a criminal, defending a criminal, or even handing down a criminal’s sentence.
  • Corrections System – Most students going into the corrections line of work will not have access to firearms due to the inherent dangers of carrying a firearm in a jail or prison setting. However, this does not take away from these students’ need to learn more about how to deescalate situations. Simulations can train corrections officers how to handle everything from an aggressive inmate to psychological preparation for close quarter encounters. When these officers are better prepared, they can make better decisions and get things under control more quickly.

Real-World Training and Preparation

In the end, judgmental use of force simulator training is beneficial to anyone and everyone considering a job in the criminal justice system. It is all about giving these students access to what really happens each day – not just what the media tells them. Though reporters work hard to provide only the facts, it is easy for facts to be misleading, and it can give criminal justice students a false sense of the real world. By incorporating use of force simulators in the classroom, and by properly training these students to handle various scenarios, they can have a better understanding of what the job is truly like, not only for themselves, but for others, too.

Judgmental use of force simulator training is not just for police officers and military officials. In fact, this training can serve anyone in criminal justice well by providing them with true-to-life experiences and training them how to react. It is highly customizable to serve each student’s personal needs, as well, which can make it an invaluable learning tool.

TEMPE, AZ – November 29, 2011 – VirTra Systems (VTSI.PK), a leading provider of firearms trainingsystems to Military, Law Enforcement agencies and accredited criminal justice programs, today announced a contract award for a VirTra 300 use of force training simulator  from Northwest College located in Powell, Wyoming.

“Northwest College is among a growing number of innovative criminal justice programs incorporating our use of force simulators to better prepare students for careers in law enforcement,” says Bob Ferris, CEO, VirTra Systems. “The VirTra 300 allows students to develop the decision-making skills required by officers in the real world.”


VirTra Systems is recognized as the leading manufacturer of state of the art firearm training simulators. Far beyond video games, our highly realistic, immersive simulator systems provide a wide range of training scenarios. Top Law Enforcement and Military organizations all over the world recognize the high level of quality training offered by VirTra’s firearm training simulators.

But VirTra’s clientele list doesn’t end there.

VirTra Systems’ simulators also apply in the academic realm.Consider the recent purchase of a VirTra Systems 300 police training simulator by the Criminal Justice Department of the United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota.