For yet another year, VirTra will be attending ILEETA 2023 to meet with clients and prospects. VirTra will provide attendees plenty of information regarding our technology as well as presentations by one of our in-house experts. The conference takes place on March 20-25 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Some of the technology we will be providing information on includes:
Nicole Florisi, VirTra’s Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert, will be presenting “The Investigator’s Role in Trauma Mitigation During an OIS” twice during the conference. You can see it in Grand B on Tuesday at 1:00 pm or in Grand C on Wednesday at 8:00 am.
Nicole will also be participating in a panel about the psychological effects of scenario-based training on police personnel in Midway 9 on Thursday at 1:00 pm. It will be hosted by Sgt. Alexandra Kitty Nelson. Other subject matter experts weighing in on this panel include Lynn Westover, Von Kliem, and Jeff Johnsgaard.
You can find VirTra at Table #314. We hope to see you there!
Stress. Law enforcement. Realistic training. Cumulative trauma. Stress injury. Exhaustion. Generally speaking, the current state of policing is pressure-laden whether managing external incidents or navigating internal politics. I have yet to meet an officer who has described their agency as a mentally healthy, nurturing environment where officers successfully weather trauma and serenity reigns. Realistically, some occupational stress is inevitable and exposure to trauma is likely. Total avoidance of trauma and stress is not a reasonable approach given that police officers exist to problem-solve and maintain the peace. We prepare officers to confront real life situations through training and realistic scenario-based training is an effective educational method. As scenario-based training has evolved, the effects of stress on physical performance, cognitive load, and decision-making have been studied. But have we given sufficient attention to what happens once the scenario is complete?
Imagine a training day in AnyTown, USA. The officer trainee has just been exposed to the sights, sounds, and smells of a traumatic incident during a realistic scenario-based training. The trauma exposure induces physiological and cognitive stress responses in the officer. By the end of their standard 8-hour training day, that same officer experiences multiple, back-to-back traumas as a part of training before flying out the door as quickly as possible to get home, off to their second job, or “anywhere but there.” Scenario debriefs focus heavily on tactics and decision-making with little room for discussion of the emotional and psychological toll to be paid for bearing witness to varying degrees of horrific situations. Persistent stress responses without resolution can lead to cognitive dysfunction and physical injury. Extrapolate those exposures over the course of a week of training…and then years of a career. Finally, after taking into account that research indicates stress responses experienced in training are similar to those experienced in real life, add trauma exposure during training to the traumas officers experience on the street. Phew!! That’s a lot!
Throughout their time as law enforcement professionals, officers collect an assortment of traumatic experiences retaining select memories of those encounters. Their internal processing of those experiences and memories varies for many reasons including their personal level of experience and psychological makeup going in to the incident along with cognitive processing and external support systems coming out of the incident. The traumas officers encounter compounded with the associated exposures to the emotions of survivors, offenders, and witnesses accumulate as encounters continue to occur. As trainers, we have learned and corrected for methods and concepts causing “training scars” over the years. I propose that attending to officer mental health during training and normalizing practical, evidence-based post-training decompression methods are additional areas where we may not be serving our officers well…or at all. We must ask ourselves if this is another training scar that needs attention.
In light of contemporary focus on officer mental health, the law enforcement profession is obligated to look inward at its contributions to stress injury. Robust training not only teaches the task but also prepares personnel for managing accompanying occupational stressors. Addressing trauma exposure and how to manage its effects during scenario-based training are opportunities to bolster resilience and train officers to use stress reduction techniques they can translate to real life. This is also an opportunity to reduce the negative impact of accumulated trauma officers inevitably amass over the course of their careers. As we realize the effects of trauma exposure in our officers, it is our responsibility as trainers and good partners to do more to create psychologically safe environments in which our students can thrive.
On Thursday afternoon at the annual ILEETA training conference (March 23rd), we will start a conversation about the psychological effects of scenario-based training on police personnel. Subject matter experts weighing in on the topic include Lynn Westover (SLC Squared – behavior pattern recognition expert), Nicole Florisi (VirTra – law enforcement subject matter expert), Von Kliem, MCJ, JD, LLM (Force Science Director of Consulting Division – human factors application in force encounters expert), and Jeff Johnsgaard (Natural Tactical Systems – realistic scenario training expert). We will identify the benefits of consciously considering student mental health in training plans, describe the challenges such consideration poses for trainers, and explore how to create trauma-informed training environments. Come join the discussion!
Sgt. Alexandra Kitty Nelson works as a day shift supervisor in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. She recently completed her master’s in psychology with a concentration on trauma for which she researched the effects of training on officer psychology. Sgt. Nelson coaches firearms, active shooter incident management, crisis intervention, and communication skills. She currently serves as 3rd vice president for IALEFI and Senior Associate of Content Delivery for ILET. Sgt. Nelson can be reached at email@example.com
For the best results, training needs to be consistent. This means maintaining consistency along all aspects: training times, instructors used, how lessons/debrief are structured, etc. Organizing training after this manner creates patterns that law enforcement officers recognize and respond well to. It becomes easier to get into the ‘training mindset’ and for officers to prepare themselves.
In speaking of structure, each practice training session should follow a strict structure. VirTra’s Lon Bartel, Director of Training and Curriculum, discussed this during his 2021 ILEETA presentation. In it, he outlined the four elements each training session must include: focus, feedback, fix and frequency. The original structure of focus, feedback, and fix comes from the renowned phycologist Anders Ericsson on deliberate practice.
This element is self-explanatory but it is not easy to do. In order for any lasting training to occur—moving learned information from short-term to long-term memory—one must be focused with all attention directed at the performance. Simply going through the motion will not cut it and will likely result in lost information and gaps in knowledge. When an officer is engaged in a highly-stressful situation in the field, they need to be able to retrieve training knowledge quickly. Floundering will only result in potential harm for the officer, nearby civilians and/or the subject.
Feedback is a necessary element that can be overlooked or completed quickly if one just wants to “check-the-box”. However, time should be spent here. It is only through feedback that law enforcement officers can learn what areas they excel in, areas that are lacking, tips and tricks for going through certain situations, etc.
Depending on the type of training performed, there are different types of feedback. First is self-feedback, such as setting up a recording device before the training session. Second is the most common: expert in the field. In this case, this is an instructor, expert or coach who provides their expert opinion. Lastly, there are performance measures: timers and steel targets, for example. Each of these options provide a way for a trainee to learn from their past training sessions and improve for the future.
Coming off of feedback, the next step is for trainees to establish the corrective action(s) that were brought up. Sometimes progress means taking a step back and building up from the basics again. While it is a difficult pill to swallow, it is always better to fix problems immediately rather than in the future, when the bad habit becomes more habitual and harder to change.
Research shows that the highest improvement of performance is associated with the largest weekly amounts of deliberate practice. Again, training must be focused for any real change to occur. Also, practice should be a limited duration, as maximum effort is difficult to sustain for a long period of time. It is more beneficial to practice hard, but in smaller more frequent training chunks.
To learn more about creating the best training sessions, download VirTra Director of Training and Curriculum Lon Bartel’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.
There will come a time when you hit a plateau—everyone does. Though this is normal, it can be incredibly frustrating, especially when training a critical skill. However, hope is not lost. Instead, Lon Bartel, VirTra’s Director of Training and Curriculum, recently presented at ILEETA 2021 and touched on this topic. According to research¹, there are two ways to increase motivation when training gets difficult:
You can be your best source of motivation. Take time to reflect on why perfecting this skill (or remembering this information) matters so much. Another option is to write down these reasons and hang it in an area you frequently inhabit. Remember that every person goes through a slump like this, but that commitment to continue is the only remedy.
The desire to quit is always heavy at this point. In fact, the main reasons people quit are: fear of failure, fear of success, laziness, failing to believe in oneself, weakness in the skill and frustration.
Failure is never fun, but it is a part of life. Laziness can strike, but officers must create motivation to keep going. Weakness is temporary, but only practice will strengthen the skillset. Keeping this in mind can help increase motivation while reducing the urge to quit.
Another tip when reaching a plateau is to experiment. If you have been training a certain way for so long, find a new way of training that skill. Consult with experts in that field and implement their advice. Work to reframe your mindset, and thus avoid the burnout.
One example is marksmanship training as a law enforcement officer. Shake up the training routine by spending time focusing just on just the weapon recoil. Or create smaller acceptable error rates that require you to slow down. If you’re training by yourself or with a small group, audibly talk your way through each step and see if you catch anything. Looking at training at a different angle may create the motivation you need.
To learn more about maintaining motivation in training, download VirTra Director of Training and Curriculum Lon Bartel’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.
1. Eddie O’Connor, “Deliberative Practice: Essential for Experts”, The Psychology of Performance: How to be Your Best in Life. Amazon Digital Service 2017
Just a few decades ago, officers had to drive to the nearest phone booth if they wanted to contact dispatch. Today, officers have satellites, radios, cell phones and other forms of technological communication surrounding them, allowing them to remain in contact at all times. A huge change from the past, yes, but sometimes one we take for granted.
Technology allows our officers to accomplish so much more in significantly less time. And as the limits of technology are pushed and new beneficial accessories appear, it is tempting to surround ourselves with the latest and greatest. While there is no problem with the technology itself, instructors need to remember not to become too reliant on tech.
But before we go over that, here is a list of current and up-and-coming technological advances your department should have or consider:
Recording Equipment—Whether a department needs an audio recorder or both visual and audio, there are a variety of products designed to fit each need. Today’s audio recorders are small and slim, whereas interview recording devices utilize smaller cameras and systems, yet produce higher-resolution video.
Communication—As mentioned before, communication devices have changed drastically. Gone are the days of payphones and pagers now that cell phones and stronger radios have entered the field. These technologies allow information to be relayed faster and easier than before.
Simulator Training—Instructors can use simulators for running trainees through scenarios, rather than finding actors or having trainees take turns being the actor. Simulators provide a safe, controlled teaching environment with repeatable training, thus preventing inconsistent training and potential training scars.
Body Cameras—This accessory is currently available worldwide, though the design and function continue to evolve. These cameras are attached to the officer’s chest and record everything the officer sees, says and does. While many large departments implement body cameras, it will be a matter of time until all departments do.
Smart Duty Belts—Imagine a belt that also monitors an officer’s vitals and notifies dispatch when the officer’s gun is removed from the holster. Fortunately, this idea is no longer science fiction, but something that is in the works. Imagine how this additional information can help serve your officers and department as a whole.
While improving technology allows officers to accomplish incredible feats, instructors need to make sure it doesn’t take over training time. Meaning: simulated training scenarios should be supplemented with real-life training drills. Officers should also train with the technology they will have in the field, but should also train without it, should an instance occur when the technology is not available or functioning. Training in this manner allows officers to be better, smarter and safer without completely relying on tech.
To learn more about how technology is impacting law enforcement, download VirTra Subject Matter Expert TJ Alioto’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.
It is no surprise: becoming an expert takes a lot of time, dedication and motivation. Whether the goal is work-oriented or a personal hobby, such as becoming an excellent marksman or athlete, both require the same checklist. These list items below were presented by Lon Bartel, VirTra’s Director of Training and Curriculum, during the 2021 ILEETA conference:
Personal motivation is a critical element. After all, you cannot force someone to become and expert in an area they do not care about—they will not put forth the effort or dedication necessary. Instead, people need to establish their own reasons to take part.
Before beginning, set measurable, obtainable goals. It is important to be specific while ensuring the goal is quantitative enough to be measured. For example, in regards to the marksmanship skill, having the goal to shoot with 90% accuracy or the ability to draw and fire 1 round at 7 yards in 1.75 seconds are both specific and measurable.
As mentioned in a previous article, if the training doesn’t challenge you, it will not change you. People naturally grow and adapt when challenged, otherwise we become complacent and plateau. The feelings of unease and failure are necessary, but it is overcoming the struggle that allows people to increase their skills.
Unfortunately, every person hits a plateau where they don’t see any growth or improvement. This is natural, though naturally, causes frustration. During times like these, you may want to blow off training, but this is when it is most critical! Frequent daily practice of dedicated focus will get you up and over the hump to a place where you can see great results again.
Without feedback, how will you know the areas needing improvement? Or exactly how close you are to meeting your goal? The best types of feedback are coaches, videos and forms of measurable performance. Without feedback, you cannot efficiently learn or improve.
This may not be something you thought of, but in the pursuit of excellence, you need to carve out recovery time. Rest for the body is just as critical as the brain, since it provides time for neural pathways to be consolidated. For most skills, a proven method is practicing with complete focus for 1 hour followed by an extended break.
Instructors and officers alike can apply these principles to whatever skill they are focusing on, whether it be personal or duty-related. Train smarter, train harder and train better with these tips on achieving expertise.
To learn more about becoming an expert, download VirTra Director of Training and Curriculum Lon Bartel’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.
Becoming an expert in anything—regardless of the skill—requires following a similar path. Whether your goal is to become an expert marksman or piano player, chances are, everyone is going to offer you advice. As you begin your pursuit to expertise, take note of these common misconceptions and phrases:
The truth: practice makes permanent. Think about it—consistent practice does not guarantee that you are perfecting your chosen skill, but rather, that you are solidifying your practice. Consider this example: you decide to spend 30 minutes on a treadmill, 3 days a week, at the same speed and incline. After a few weeks, there will be no more improvement, since you adapted and met the demand.
If practice doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you!
The truth: it is rare that genetics creates expertise. Granted, there are certain genetic abilities that provide advantage: height, limb length, visual acuity, etc. If the goal was to pursue basketball excellence, height would certainly help. But genetics is not what makes someone an expert.
Instead, according to Anders Ericsson¹, it is more likely these ‘natural talents’ displayed early were encouraged by positive feedback from peers, coaches, parents, etc. These motivators kept the individual going, which lead to achieving expertise. Late bloomers can still flourish and become experts as well!
The truth: it depends on the area of expertise. Some claim that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. However, Anders Ericsson disagrees, and for good reasons. First of all, this depends on the skill. Certain skills will require more time than others in the pursuit of excellence—becoming a skilled surgeon will take considerably more time than becoming skilled in the harmonica.
Also, how a person chooses to practice is key. If a person practices with a completely dedicated, focused mindset while taking the appropriate number of breaks, they will accomplish more in less time.
As officers choose to become experts in various arenas, it is important to keep these truths in mind. Whatever skill you choose to pursue, know that it will take time, dedication and must be challenging.
To learn more about becoming an expert, download VirTra Director of Training and Curriculum Lon Bartel’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.
Anders Ericsson- “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” (1996)
To make the best officers, instructors must provide the best training. After all, training quality and an officer’s skillset go hand-in-hand; when one improves, so does the other. Unfortunately, when one diminishes, so does the other. Naturally, instructors want to provide the very best training for their law enforcement officers and watch them succeed in the field.
However, as an instructor, chances are you face difficult decisions that are often outside of your control, yet they greatly affect training. Just a few of these decisions include:
• Mandates—both legal and departmental
• Cost—overtime, equipment (repairs, new orders, etc.), actors
• Time—time spent traveling, but trying to squeeze in training
• Instructors—whether it be shortages or lack of availability
• Facilities—various training locations, such as off-site shooting ranges
• Priorities—who makes the ultimate decisions in each training aspect?
Even though there are many aspects of training outside of your control, it is better to focus on what you can control, and how your officers can benefit. Fortunately, high-end training technology can solve many of the issues listed above, giving instructors the power to fully control training again.
For example, VirTra’s training simulators provide an immersive, controlled environment where instructors can run trainees through critical-skill focused scenarios: de-escalation, judgmental use of force, interaction with mentally ill subjects, etc. Having a simulator reduces the number of instructors needed, the cost of role-players and reducing the number of required facilities to one—solving three major issues in one go.
But it doesn’t stop there. Every VirTra law enforcement simulator is equipped with V-VICTA™—nationally-certified curriculum based off current officer needs. This can meet the need of various mandates, as all curriculum provide certified training hours, in addition to reducing the cost of instructor-created content.
It is also worth noting that modern training technology engages newer officers. These individuals have been surrounded by technology their entire lives and know its value. As a department, embracing technology can invite more officers to becoming instructors.
To learn more, download VirTra Subject Matter Expert TJ Alioto’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.
There are only a few days left until the annual International Law Enforcement Education and Trainers Association (ILEETA) for 2019. This year is featuring speakers from VirTra’s in house experts and new V-VICTA training available exclusively for Law Enforcement training. See below for all the latest details:
In addition to a booth at ILEETA, VirTra has two training sessions with our in-house Subject Matter Experts. Each session will cover a range of topics when it comes to Simulation training. Be sure to save time in your schedule for both of our sessions happening throughout the event at various time slots to allow you to get the most out of these training sessions:
Monday, March 18th at 10-11: 45 am and again on Tuesday the 19th at 8-9:45 am: “Fusing Classroom and Mixed Reality Training” presented by Tony Montanarella. This session will cover an in-depth look at how to ensure your team is using an innovative method for combining the classroom and mixed reality environments for effective and impactful training.
Monday, March 18th at 10-11: 45 am and again on Wednesday the 20th at 1-2:45 pm: “Simulated Event Training- How to Train the Elephant” presented by Lon Bartel. This session discusses at length how to help train the unconscious mind to better react under pressure. This holistic method, which encompasses digital simulation and force on force training, holds a significant impact for trainers. Training time is a scarce resource in Law Enforcement and must be effectively utilized. This course discusses maximizing the use of training time is critical to the successful outcome of our students in law enforcement contacts.
VirTra launched V-VICTA™ as a way to provide certified training curriculum and interactive coursework to our customers while keeping up with the newest topics. These crucial law enforcement training areas include Injured Officer Handgun Manipulation, Human Factors in Force Encounters and most recently High-Risk Vehicle Stops. All of these are included within V-VICTA and provide specific law enforcement training that was curated with the help of each of our partners who shared their expertise to ensure our curriculum met their strict standards. Be sure to stop by our booth #447 at Union Station Midway in St. Louis, MO to get the full scoop on the latest from VirTra and some takeaways to help you with your team.
We look forward to seeing you there at ILEETA 2019, be sure to schedule a demo with VirTra and attend the training sessions throughout the week.
Tempe, Ariz. — March 15, 2018 — VirTra, Inc. (OTCQX: VTSI), a global provider of training simulators for the law enforcement, military, educational and commercial markets, today announced that Lon Bartel, one of the company’s law enforcement training subject matter experts, will host two courses on Foundations of Simulated Event Training at the 2018 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) Conference and Expo, March 19-24, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, VirTra will have a booth located at #219.
Bartel is certified by the Force Science Institute as a use-of-force analyst and has been recognized by The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board as an expert in the areas of defensive tactics and firearms. He spent 20 years in law enforcement, primarily as a rangemaster for the Peoria, Arizona Police Department, managing their Firearms Instructional Team. Bartel also authored the department’s use of force policies for both sworn and non-sworn officers.
The Foundations of Simulated Event Training course will discuss the critical aspects of psychological fidelity and physical fidelity as it applies to simulation. Additionally, the course will explain how to adjust cognitive load to increase or decrease working memory functioning, and the importance of this manageable load as it applies to forming long term memory. The course will take place Monday, March 19, 2018 from 10-11:45 a.m., and Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 3:30-5:15 p.m.
VirTra is a global provider of training 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 realistic and highly-effective virtual reality and simulator technology. Learn more about the company at www.VirTra.com.
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