Delaying the use of force in favor of de-escalation requires good judgment, situational awareness, and frequently, an assumption of risk. In an article by Von Kliem of Force Science, the decision to de-escalate requires officers to balance immediate public safety against the desire to generate voluntary cooperation and avoid the use of force.

Of course, not all subjects are willing or able to be de-escalated. There are not magic words that guarantee an unruly subject will suddenly become compliant. If someone does not want to comply, they won’t. Officers must not only assess the subject’s willingness to de-escalate, they must consider when it has become too dangerous to keep trying.  This is where the four C’s come into play: containment, control, contact, and communication.

Containment & Control

Containment refers to limiting the subject to a reasonable area of movement; often while keeping others out. Containment ideally reduces a subject’s chance to access weapons, evidence, or potential victims.  Containment also keeps the person close enough for communication, while reducing distractions that can make communication and persuasion difficult.

Even with containment, officers will consider how much “control” they have over the subject.  Control simply means the subject in not presenting an imminent threat.  The presence of weapons and potential victims can challenge an officer’s ability to use verbal de-escalation and avoid the use of force.

As Von Kliem mentions in the Force Science article referenced earlier, if the only person potentially in harm’s way is the subject themselves, slowing down to set conditions for de-escalation may be the most reasonable approach.


When most people think of de-escalation, they are imagining verbal communication and body language. The words you choose are important, but so is how you say them. A calm tone of voice may encourage a person to de-escalate, where screaming may have the opposite effect.

Sometimes talking isn’t required at all.  It may be that listening is more valuable and that a distressed subject needs to vent before calming down. It can help them feel as if their emotions matter and their opinions are heard.


Contact is more than just having the subject see and hear you.  Officers must consider whether the subject can even understand the messages they are sending.  Contact is necessary for the subject to read facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.  Physical distance and barriers can impede effective communication, and so can mental impairment that can result from alcohol, drugs, or certain mental health issues.

In police encounters, Kliem mentions that some training recommends that officers create space between themselves and a subject in crisis. When officers choose to create space, they should consider whether that distance might impede communication and de-escalation efforts.


As an officer, you know de-escalation has been a part of policing for decades and that not everyone wants to de-escalate. You know that officers don’t actually de-escalate other people.  Instead, they set the conditions that provide the best opportunity and motivation for people to de-escalate themselves.  In other words, de-escalation requires cooperation.

VirTra has 2 valuable de-escalation courses that are NCP-certified by IADLEST. They combine classroom learning with hands-on experience in the simulator. The best way to learn a skill is to use it in context – so VirTra allows you to research the topic, then put it into practice in a safe environment. To get started on de-escalation training, contact a specialist.



Kliem, V. (2019, July 25). Containment and de-escalation: The honest debate continues – force science. Force Science – Research | Training | Consulting.

Force Science – a renowned research, training and consulting company – provides courses around the United States to law enforcement, legal experts and more to those wishing to learn in-depth about the science of human behavior. One way that people choose to become further educated on such topics is through the Force Science Advanced Specialist Course. It is an 18-week comprehensive course for developing the critical thinking, scientific knowledge, and research foundations needed for use of force expertise.

VirTra’s Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert Nicole Florisi has recently completed this feat and received her Advanced Specialist Certification through Force Science. Florisi has a diverse background with her 20+ years in law enforcement. Aside from her work with VirTra, she is a course instructor for Force Science in their de-escalation program; works with a non-profit providing services for victims of sex trafficking, sexual violence, and domestic violence; and has experience working as a therapist with a crisis and trauma focus.

Florisi has contributed greatly to VirTra, most notably being the author of 15 hours of V-VICTA® curriculum. She authored VirTra’s “Mental Illness: A Practical Approach” coursework; which has topics ranging from depression and suicide to PTSD and dementia. Her work is recognizable through the accuracy of facts, attention to detail, and focus on behavior recognition.

Knowing this was a milestone Florisi could reach with her skills and determination, all of her colleagues at VirTra are congratulatory. Current clients can expect to see continued curriculum authored and reviewed by Florisi as she has become a staple of the Training and Curriculum team.

TEMPE, Ariz. — August 7, 2019 — VirTra, Inc. (NASDAQ: VTSI), a global provider of training simulators for the law enforcement, military, educational, and commercial markets, has partnered with Force Science Institute to create realistic training and education for law enforcement officers, which is backed by the science of human performance. The formal partnership builds on the two companies’ relationship, which was initially established in April 2018, when they joined forces to develop a four-part series of law enforcement training courses.

“By partnering with Force Science Institute, we’re able to leverage their research, training, and complex scientific principles to add extensive depth and expertise to our leading simulation product line,” said Jason Mulcahy, VirTra General Manager. “We’re empowering every line-level officer on the streets with the critical knowledge and practical skills to help keep the communities they serve safe and return home unharmed.”

Dr. Bill Lewinski, Executive Director and co-founder of the Force Science Institute, has been identifying the human dynamics involved in complex, high stress, and often life-threatening encounters for over 40 years. By leveraging Force Science’s experience, VirTra furthers its mission to save and improve lives through realistic, highly-effective, and scientifically-grounded education and simulator technologies. Together, the partners have propelled police trainers to reimagine what is possible with advanced performance and simulation training.

Dr. Lewinski had this to say, “Partnering with VirTra, with their advanced training simulators, will allow us to apply human factors research in a way that effectively combines physical, cognitive, and perceptual training and testing. This combination will be vital to developing and maintaining the knowledge, judgment, and skills transfer our law enforcement needs.”

The impact of the VirTra and Force Science partnership is already being felt across the country:

  • VirTra and the Force Science Institute created scholarships for 12 peace officers to attend a five-day Force Science Certification Course. The scholarship award covers the course fee ($1,650). Applications for this scholarship are still being accepted. Those interested can still apply here or nominate an applicant by 11:59 p.m. CDT on Sunday, August 25, 2019.
  • Co-sponsored training in Foundational Principals of Force Science was developed for the Miami-Dade Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s, and the O’Fallon Police Department, and features demonstrations of VirTra simulator training scenarios.
  • A joint presentation at the FBI National Academy Associates’ National Conference was conducted by VirTra Director of Training, Lon Bartel, alongside Chris Butler, Senior Instructor for Force Science Institute. During the presentation, titled How to Mitigate/Prevent “Lawful but Awful” Use-of-Force Events, they discussed training tactics, the science of simulation, and how to mitigate risks to law enforcement and the community.

Through the new partnership, VirTra and Force Science Institute will continue to identify important research projects, develop science-backed training scenarios, and offer valuable education in the upcoming seasons. Interested parties are encouraged to attend the Second Annual Force Science Conference, being held in Chicago, IL on October 16-17, 2019, where they will meet VirTra and Force Science Instructors and witness an exciting demonstration of the VirTra simulator.

About VirTra:
VirTra (NASDAQ: VTSI) is a global provider of judgmental use of force training simulators, firearms training simulators and driving simulators for the law enforcement, military, educational and commercial markets. The company’s patented technologies, software, and scenarios provide intense training for de-escalation, judgmental use-of-force, marksmanship and related training that mimics real-world situations. VirTra’s mission is to save and improve lives worldwide through practical and highly-effective virtual reality and simulator technology. Learn more about the company at

About the Force Science Institute:
The Force Science Institute develops and disseminates high-quality, scientifically grounded, education, training, and consultation to support fact-based investigations, inform decision processes, enhance public safety, and improve peace officer performance in critical situations. Learn more here

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