An officer’s toolbelt is his lifeline in the field. Depending on the situation, the toolbelt has the answer, holding communication, less lethal and lethal options. However, in order to effectively deploy less lethal tools or chemical agents, officers must be trained in them. Just like with firearms, deploying a less lethal without training opens up departments to unnecessary liability.
However, training with live less lethals quickly becomes expensive. Spent Axon® TASER® cartridges and OC canisters pile up with extensive officer use, along with the cost. Then there are the decontamination and risk of injury concerns. But what’s an agency to do when this training is required?
VirTra offers a cost and time-efficient way to train in less lethals—in addition to judgmental use of force, verbal de-escalation, active shooters and more. Law enforcement officers can enter the simulator equipped with TASER and OC spray to train in situations that would require a less lethal option. They can also use our ballistically accurate V-Marksmanship system to hone the mechanics of less-lethal deployment.
Enabling an officer to train using all the tools on their tool belt provides more than an understanding of how to work a less lethal accessory; it provides decision-making training and enhanced realism. The enhanced realism is two-fold, comprising of both physical and psychological fidelity.
The psychological fidelity comes from the officer knowing they can engage in a variety of de-escalation and less lethal options, and the subjects on screen will react accordingly. Instructors can add another element of psychological fidelity by utilizing the patented Threat-Fire® on trainees to increase stress.
As for the physical fidelity, VirTra’s technology allows officers to use their duty weapons and TASER inside the simulator—once they are outfitted with the corresponding drop-in replacement. For example, VirTra’s patent-pending TASER simulation training cartridges are direct drop-in replacements for live cartridges on real Axon X2 and X26P TASERs. See more TASER features here.
As for the OC spray, VirTra offers laser-based OC spray training devices, which are placed in the SABRE®MK3 OC canister. The canister size, weight, activation button pressure and launch angle all match the actual OEM MK3 canister to increase realism while reducing training scars.
By utilizing TASER drop-in replacements and OC training devices, departments can train in less lethal all day without having to throw away a single cartridge.
There are many scenarios designed to teach the implementation of less lethal tools. One scenario is where officers respond to a scene where an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) is holding a knife to his chest and threatening to harm himself and others.
Scenarios like this are effective training tools, as they move beyond simple shoot/don’t shoot situations and prompt skills like scene control, contact and cover concepts and de-escalation. With the EDP scenario, watch as the officers communicate with the subject on screen. After attempts to verbally de-escalate the situation, and after the subject begins to escalate, the officer can use her TASER and the character on screen reacts realistically.
This is what training with VirTra is like. Realistic training with realistic tools in realistic situations.
Learn more about less lethal training and how it can improve your training program while saving money by contacting a VirTra specialist.
The phrases “Non-Lethal” and “Less Lethal” are used by law enforcement and military agencies worldwide. But what exactly does each phrase mean? Are these phrases interchangeable or apply to different products?
The answer is surprisingly simple: there is no force option that is completely non-lethal.
One of the best definitions of less lethal is “any use of force other than that which is considered deadly force that involves physical effort to control, restrain, or overcome the resistance of another.” ¹ This definition encompasses force such as an officer’s manual restraint, electronic control weapons, aerosol spray and impact projectiles.
However, you may be wondering how these tools are designed to overcome a subject rather than cause harm, why they are specifically called “less lethal” instead of “non-lethal”.
Think about physical restraint. If you tackle a suspect and handcuff them, if done wrong or if the subject has a pre-existing medical condition, it could kill them. Or if you try to gain control over a situation by using OC spray and the subject suffers an allergic reaction, it could kill them.
This same concept applies to Axon® TASER®, batons and so forth. While these instances are extremely miniscule, the possibility still exists. From a legal standpoint, it is safer and smarter to refer to these tools as “less lethal” rather than placing them in the “non-lethal” category.
However, these examples barely scratch the surface of less-lethal tools. According to the National Institute of Justice², there are seven types of less lethal device technologies:
• Conducted Energy Devices—encompasses TASERs, stun guns and stun belts
• Directed Energy Devices—radiated energy to achieve same effect as blunt force, with lower likelihood of injury
• Chemicals—pepper spray (OC), tear gas and stink bombs
• Distraction—laser dazzlers, bright lights or noise
• Vehicle-Stopping Technology—equipment that stops cars during high-speed chases
• Barriers—nets, foams and other physical barriers
• Blunt Force—projectiles in crowd-control to deter certain actions
Each tool is designed to mitigate harm while allowing law enforcement to gain control over a situation. Depending on agency policy and the unique situation, officers may choose which less lethal tool to utilize.
You may still be wondering about agencies that use the phrase “non-lethal”. The only organization that consistently uses that phrase is the military³. This is due to the terminology describing certain categories of weapons. While there is no clear policy as to why this phrase is used primarily over others, it could possibly be due to the nature of their missions.
VirTra’s judgmental use of force simulators are designed to train using the entire use of force spectrum. Officers are encouraged to start with de-escalation to “stabilize the situation and reduce the immediacy of the threat”¹ without the use of force.
However, certain subjects may not comply or situations may hinder de-escalation tactics. In these cases, officers may react with the next best option: less lethal.
The less lethal tools provided to officers depends on the agency, though they most likely include TASERs, OC and similar. Knowing this, VirTra designed less lethal accessories that are compatible with the simulator, allowing trainees and seasoned officers alike to train with all the tools found in their duty belt at the same time.
VirTra offers two different TASER training tools: the V-TX2 and V-X26P (TASER 7 is in development). These products are drop-in replacements for the Axon TASER X2 and X26P, respectively. The cartridge probes allow for precise aiming and realistic targeting within the system, while providing proper form fit without modification to live TASER handles. In regards to the scenario, subjects who are hit with a TASER react accordingly, for the most realistic training possible.
While the TASER training options are drop-in replacements for duty TASERs, the OC training device is different. Instead, this device is a separate tool created by VirTra. While it is not a drop-in replacement, the accessory is still placed in a SABRE® MK3 OC canister, with proper activation button pressure and proper weight for maximum realism while mitigating training scars. Similar to TASERs, on-screen subjects react accordingly when hit with OC spray.
VirTra offers a variety of other less lethal training accessories to maximize training sessions, including impact munitions and 12g, 37mm and 40mm. For more information about each accessory, please contact a VirTra representative.
Police officers today have a wide range of crime-fighting tools available to them beyond just their service weapons as they perform their duties on the streets. They also have access to less lethal options, such as Axon® TASER®, kinetic energy rounds and OC or pepper spray, giving them additional choices when dealing with suspects in tense situations.
Yet to be ready to use those additional tools at a moment’s notice, officers need to regularly and safely practice operating them when dealing with criminal suspects and real-time crimes. That’s where the kinetic energy rounds, TASER and OC spray accessories available for VirTra’s use of force training simulators can be brought in to help officers better train for incidents when they will need to use de-escalation techniques and non-lethal force to control and subdue a suspect.
VirTra’s 12 gauge/37mm/40mm kinetic energy round accessories uses a laser within the simulator to represent these direct fire options. These dynamic training tools allow for higher stress, repetitive, skill building on these vital longer range less lethal options.
VirTra’s TASER accessory is modified to use a laser that “fires” at the display screens of the training simulator, rather than standard TASER stun equipment that strikes and disables suspects when they are shot. By allowing officers to use the same kinds of Taser devices in training that they will use on the street, it ensures they get and maintain real-world experience in operating the non-lethal devices so they are ready if they are needed.
The VirTra OC Spray accessory is a realistic-looking OC spray canister that is also modified to fire a laser rather than actual gas, giving officers the ability to train with the non-lethal crime-fighting tool while immersed in a training scenario on a VirTra use of force simulator.
The lasers in all products interact in real-time with the scenario videos being shown in the VirTra simulators, giving police officers the most realistic training they can receive. The suspects in the real videos featured in the simulators are affected by and react immediately to the officer’s use of the kinetic energy rounds, TASER or OC spray as part of the simulations.
By providing these training tools, officers get positive experiences in operating them to build their confidence and help them replicate their real-world, on-the-street use as closely as possible.
Several other accessories are also available for use with the simulators, including a low-light package that includes two special flashlights and other hardware and software which allows officers to simulate operations in low-light situations. The low-light option exposes the officers to the proper use of the flashlight and their weapon in such situations and teaches how to determine proper threat and target identification.
A specialty “breach door” accessory allows officers to practice how to break through a door when responding in an emergency. The device, which is specially designed to be re-useable for repeated entry by officers in training for close quarters battle (CQB) or room-clearing operations, gives officers experience with movements that are often not provided in standard training exercises. Officers can train in how to properly enter a room with their partner after breaching the door – when they still don’t know what is on the other side – enabling trainees to simulate this high-stress situation.
In addition, VirTra offers other system upgrades that can enhance the use of its simulators. One upgrade is a 16-inch raised training platform for the simulator that brings officers up to the level of the display screens used by the systems, as well as an optional sound system that includes an amplifier and transducers to let officers “feel” the sounds they are hearing as they train. Also available are borderless display screens to make the videos seen by the officers even clearer and larger, eliminating a 5-inch black border between each screen in the standard versions. A touch-screen display option is also available for the computer system which is operated by an instructor to run the VirTra use of force training simulator.
All of these accessories and options are available in addition to VirTra’s patented Threat-Fire® Return Fire Simulator, which is a wireless, battery-operated electronic accessory that clips on an officer’s waist on a belt or clothing and can be used by a training instructor to add real-time threat and return fire simulation to an officer’s training experience.
The patented VirTra Threat-Fire brings the ultimate in realism to law enforcement use of force training by adding the simulated – but noticeable – “consequences” of a suspect attacking an officer. The Threat-Fire jolts the trainee officer with an ultra-low-dose of an electrical charge to replicate the sensation of being assaulted during a high-stress situation on the street. The device safely simulates the pain of hostile attack using an electric stun, which can be adjusted in duration to up to 2.5 seconds.
The activation of the Threat-Fire Simulator is made even more effective because an officer undergoing use of force training in the V-300 or other VirTra use of force simulators doesn’t know when it will be activated by the training instructor. By randomly adding this consequence to the video training, officers can practice de-escalation techniques as well as the use of non-lethal weapons as they react to situations from domestic disputes to hostage use of force scenarios and more.
VirTra’s judgmental use of force training systems, such as its five-screen V-300 simulator, provide police officers with video-enhanced, real-world training scenarios that mirror situations officers experience on the street regularly in their jobs. The V-300 allows police officers to be surrounded by 300 degrees of realistic video simulations which allow them to become enmeshed in the crime incident scenarios unfolding around them. VirTra also offers a full line of other simulators in three-screen and single-screen configurations for every training requirement.