Memory: it is a lot more complicated than you think.

One aspect of memory is performance, which refers to short-term memory and mastery. For trainees, performance can be passing a test after a short training period. After all, the crammed information still resides in short-term memory, and is easily accessed. This quick, constant repetition of knowledge is similar to repeating a phone number until it is dialed. However, in both examples, the information is quickly forgotten and discarded by the mind before it can be moved to long-term memory.

Transfer, on the other hand, refers to long-term memory. Transfer guarantees that a student has learned and mastered a skill, can recall the information easily and perform accurately now and in the future, unlike with performance’s short-term memory. Similar to behavioral long-term memory, the long-term synaptic changes require new protein synthesis for the information to be stored. While short-term memory changes do not cause this significant change in the brain.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Information absorbed automatically resides in short-term memory. Transitioning information from short-term to long-term is graded and takes time, effort and constant practice. Below are 5 tips on improving long-term memory:

1. Repetition

Each person has over one hundred billion—100,000,000,000—neurons in their brain. Each neuron is connected to thousands of others, each relaying and storing information as needed. Neurons transfer information by firing impulse signals to their neighbors, who continue to distribute the information throughout the cortex. As a person repeats an action or studies certain materials, groups of neurons begin to fire together in the same pattern, making for easier recall.

2. Add Variety

Instructors must present the information in multiple ways, such as teaching a technique in a classroom setting, then immediately switching to a situation or scenario in which the technique can be practiced. For trainees, studying should change from reading the material to presenting to a fellow classmate.

3. Avoid Cramming

A brief cramming session will store the information in short-term (performance) rather than long-term (transfer) because the information has not been reviewed and recalled multiple times. While this can be beneficial in the present, such as passing a test, it causes significant harm in the future as the information is lost and extremely difficult to recall—especially in a stressful or complicated situation.

4. Visualize

More than half of the population are visual learners, also called spatial learners, meaning they learn best through forms of visual communication. This can range from drawing diagrams on a whiteboard to showing images and video. But to visualize the information processed requires going a step further. In the case of trainees, visualizing a certain technique means practicing it in role-playing and virtual scenarios.

5. Sleep

Research shows that sleep is crucial for transferring information to long-term memory. Our brains need dedicated time to consolidate and process the information absorbed throughout the day, which needless to say, cannot be performed while a person is awake. After training, instructors need to give time for trainees to struggle to understand the information presented. Allow students to sleep on it before returning to the subject or skill the next day.

Transferring information to long-term memory is crucial for law enforcement. This career path is filled with stressful, high emotion situations that require quick recall of laws, tactics and techniques. One way a student can prepare for and practice is through repeated use of our simulators. For ideas on how to train smarter with our relevant, lifelike scenarios, please contact us.

Individuals in almost any profession must be properly trained if they are to do their jobs well, safely, and legally. For example, a cosmetologist in California must undergo approximately 1,600 hours of training. However, in that same state, a law enforcement officer—one who has permission to wield and utilize deadly weapons—requires only 664 training hours. For many, this is an obvious issue that needs to be immediately addressed.

The Startling Reality of Police Training Hours

Although it is difficult to believe an individual needs more training time to provide manicuring services than legally pointing a weapon at a suspect, it is true and startling. What is more startling is that California is not the only state requiring fewer law enforcement training hours than other professions:

  • North Carolina –Barbers need 1,520 hours of training; police officers only need 620.
  • California – Licensed cosmetologists need 1,600 hours of training; police officers in training need 664.
  • Florida – Interior designers must have 1,760 hours of training, but police officers only need 770.
  • Massachusetts – Licensed HVAC technicians need 1,000 hours of training and policemen need 900.
  • Michigan –Licensed electric sign specialists need 4,000 hours of training; policemen need 594.
  • Louisiana –Manicurists need 500 hours of training while police officers in training only need 360.

The Obvious Problem for Officers

Law enforcement officers find themselves in a variety of difficult situations each shift. Even traffic cops—those simply stopping people for speeding or failing to stop completely at stop signs—put themselves in potentially deadly situations every day. The sheer number of police-involved deaths is overwhelming, yet this number continues to climb each year.

It stands to reason that law enforcement training should be just as extensive and thorough—if not more so—than the training it takes to become a licensed interior designer. However, for many states, this is not the case. People nationwide argue that something should be done to change this.

Decreasing Risk with Supplemental and Ongoing Police Training

Although it is true that law enforcement officers require significantly less training than those in other professions in many states nationwide, it is worth noting that training does not stop once an officer receives their badge. In addition, the quality and type of police training will also play a role in adequately preparing the officer to do their job.

For example, some methods of teaching are a linear, step-by-step process. In regard to cutting hair or applying makeup, this is a linear function: everything has an order and can be routinely followed. But for officers, de-escalation and use of force is not linear. There are so many different factors simultaneously in play in each scenario that a simple to-do list cannot be followed. As such, police officer training should not occur as blocks or silos—following the linear ideology. So why continue to train after this linear manner?

Instead, supplemental, and ongoing police force training—such as a realistic judgmental use of force simulator, virtual marksmanship range and de-escalation scenarios—can go a long way towards better preparing officers because of their intricate nature. This is because simulators provide a complex training environment, mimicking the real world. Also, being a science-based form of training that teaches and improves human performance makes it easier to build lifelong skills and transfer to the field.

 

If you are bothered by the fact that, in many states, barbers require more training than law enforcement officers, you are not alone. Many people nationwide believe that police forces should be better trained to fully protect and serve. Fortunately, with state-of-the-art, science-based realistic training simulators such as the ones VirTra provides, it is possible for departments and academies to better prepare their officers in even the shortest amount of time.

For more information about our simulators and how they maximize training time and realism, talk to one of our VirTra specialists today.