The 5-screen, 300-degree V-300® was recently used in a study to determine the perceived effectiveness of simulation training for law enforcement. The way officers perceive the effectiveness of a style of training can affect how they perform – and by using the V-300, the study aimed to identify how officers perceive the “transferability of the training to the field” and how it compares to other types of training (p. 4).
The research article is titled “The association between participant characteristics and perceptions of the effectiveness of law enforcement tactical simulation training.” The study was written by members of the Lockwood Department of Criminal Justice as well as Monmouth University. It examined the perception of simulator training by 417 participating police officers and noted predictors of these perceptions.
As mentioned above, trainees who find a type of training valuable have a much higher chance of applying what they learned into real-world settings. The study found that “the vast majority of participants” believe the V-300 simulator training to be effective and transferrable (p. 9).
Additionally, the study provided numerous insights into simulation training. Researchers analyzed how various types of officers view and accept different training styles. Since the study included a variety of ages, races, education levels and ranks, the study was able to establish connections. Here are some interesting finds from the ‘Results’ and ‘Discussion’ sections (pp. 7-9):
• 90.1% of participating officers and recruits reported that the training provided ‘above average’ training in preparation for encounters with civilians.
• Participants employed by a municipal police department particularly believed the simulator to be effective, more so than other agency types.
• Older officers were less likely to believe simulator training is effective.
• More educated participants (bachelor’s degree or higher) were more likely to perceive the training as effective.
John Comiskey, Brian Lockwood, Shannon Cunningham & Julia Arminio (2021) The association between participant characteristics and perceptions of the effectiveness of law enforcement tactical simulator training, Police Practice and Research, 22:6, 1655-1667, DOI: 10.1080/15614263.2021.1948848
Just how important is it for law enforcement officers to practice transitioning between lethal and less-lethal tools? VirTra’s V-300® simulator was used in a recently published, peer-reviewed study in The Police Journal titled “Lost in transition: The effects of transitioning between firearms and electronic control devices (ECDs) on perception-response times (PRTs)” involving the effects and response times while transitioning between firearms and Axon® TASERs®. The surprising results of the study show that not only do officers not get enough of this type of training, but they also need it.
The study, written by industry experts Dr. Paul Taylor, Paul Sipe and Lon Bartel, involved a group of 139 active law enforcement officers who had their response times measured between firearm to TASER and vice versa. Officers demonstrated these actions through the VirTra simulator using rotating targets on the simulated range and firearms/tools modified for use within the simulator.
The results show that transitioning between the two tools is not simply a mindless task. It takes 2.49 seconds on average for an officer to transition from TASER to firearm and 4.7 seconds to change from a firearm to TASER, proving that the two are “not equivalent tasks.”
The study made clear that the results show implications for law enforcement training. According to the authors, 70% of the study participants were not required by their agencies to perform weapon transitions and did not appear to be fully comfortable with the task, with some having to look down at the tool they are drawing from their belt.
Transitioning through use-of-force options is needed as sometimes the force option required changes depending on how the subject acts. There have been high profile instances where the wrong tool was grabbed by mistake (such as the Daunte Wright shooting) that show the dangers of not being well-trained or properly equipped.
VirTra is the only simulation company that offers a certified Weapon Transitions course. Part of the V-VICTA™ library, Weapon Transitions is a 5-hour course that has passed rigorous review by IADLEST and received NCP certification. With changing scenarios that trainees cannot predict, instructors can use VirTra’s simulators to replicate a situation where they may need to suddenly go up or down the use-of-force continuum.
To read the abstract and download the study, click here.
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.
Choosing a training simulator is no small task. This training technology can be expensive and there are dozens of simulation companies, so finding the best option for your department quickly becomes a complicated project.
To make searching easier, VirTra designed a simple checklist of common simulation company pitfalls for departments to utilize. The more you research, the more you will discover that companies use certain keywords, but lack information on that topic. Here is how to find these holes and ensure the simulation company you choose is actually well-rounded.
It is becoming increasingly more common for simulation companies to offer certified curriculum. Sure, it’s a popular buzzword and even more important training tool. But how much does each company actually disclose about the certification process?
When shopping for a training company that offers certified curriculum, specifically ask about the certification process. Oftentimes, curriculum is ‘certified’ by the company itself or a close business partner instead of an independent third-party.
Proper training is critical, and therefore, training curriculum must be certified by a credible third-party. No instructor wants their officers training with semi-reliable resources. To the point of credibility, companies should be open and honest about their certification process. If certification information is difficult to find or the company is hesitant to disclose their certification process, this is a major red flag.
A proper example of certification is VirTra’s V-VICTA™ training curricula, each of which is certified through IADLEST’s National Certification Program, which sets the POST training standards for 36+ states. VirTra is proud to have our curriculum undergo this rigorous independent review process and we often discuss it on our website, social media, brochures and other materials.
All in all, when you find curriculum that isn’t certified by a credible third party, you need to ask why.
When building curriculum, it is popular for simulation companies to collaborate with industry experts. However, if you dig a little deeper, you may find that these experts work with multiple simulation companies. What you need to find out is which simulation company the experts prioritize, or use for their research. If an expert uses a different training simulator company than the one you are looking at, you need to ask why.
Asking this question can help you figure out what the expert sees that others don’t. By taking the time to figure out why experts chose that simulator specifically may uncover that the chosen company is more realistic, responsive, science-based, stress-inducing, etc.
Similar to their ‘certified curriculum,’ companies may boast research-based programs or scenarios. While seemingly helpful on the surface, it is worth asking for the specific research articles and reports. Thanks to the internet, ‘research’ is available on any subject and less reliable research can support virtually any standpoint, but good, credible and independent research is harder to find and less implemented than other sources.
For the most visibility, VirTra proudly showcases all utilized research, complete with the sources and additional supportive information. VirTra wants our customers to have the best training and to understand exactly how VirTra maximizes training time, skill-building and realism. In this manner, ‘research’ is not just a buzzword, it’s how we build our business.
To take a short survey to determine the best simulator for your department, try out our Simulator Configurator. For more information, or to request documents on specific research topics, contact a VirTra specialist!
All instructors have heard the phrase “evidence-based training.” But what exactly does this term imply and how can it affect law enforcement?
Lon Bartel, VirTra’s Director of Training and Curriculum, defines it as, “[researching] and then [implementing] the best practices to create and sustain a functional officer. This is done with a critical analysis of training methods and selecting the most efficient for creating needed and lasting change.”
Essentially, evidence-based training is interweaving powerfully proven tactics into training programs to ensure officers are best prepared for the field—and the unique needs of the communities they serve.
Not only does evidence-based training create well-equipped officers, it also translates into maximized training sessions and reduced training scars. Though the benefits to evidence-based training are apparent, the fact is, transitioning to this type of training program can be difficult. Instructors must consider several key aspects for the transition to be successful, which are listed in the digital report “Why Law Enforcement Needs to Take a Science-Based Approach to Training and Education.”
Learn more about evidence-based training, the science of human performance and more by downloading the booklet here.
With a variety of ways to train your team with simulation, there are hundreds of combinations on how you can utilize scenarios in your agency. But which combination provides the level of psychological fidelity needed to induce stress so that your team will better prepare to face challenges in the field? A simple “shoot-don’t shoot” scenario may not be enough to induce stress. However, a combination of the VirTra V-300® and our Threat-Fire® feedback device induces a measurable amount of stress. According to a new clinical study between by the collaboration of the U.S. Army Research Lab, the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the University of California, there is a significant relationship between performance and stress. Read below for the full details:
Across the board, it might seem obvious that training with a VirTra simulator would produce better results for any student looking to improve their situational awareness, but trying to PROVE the correlation in a clinical setting is something else entirely. For the results to be statistically significant, there had to be numerous trials, and in this case, they have performed a total of 256 times. From that data, they were able to correlate the performance of the subjects of the trial with their stress response. Which means that the use of the system paired with the VirTra patented Threat-Fire induced the right amount of stress to impact their performance. By impacting their performance in a significant way, they are better able to perform properly in real-world situations. Each trainer can also review their performance together as a key differentiator for those looking to optimize law enforcement and military simulation training beyond the classroom.
With the use of the patented Threat-Fire in the V-300 or any of our simulation environments, your team can produce the same stress reaction used in this independent study. By inducing stress in a controlled and safe environment, your team will be better prepared for the field. The clinical study also revealed that although initially the stress negatively impacted their performance, over time, the subjects were able to correct their performance and increase their accuracy. This paints a picture of what VirTra customers have come to love about the unique judgmental use of force training that VirTra offers. Without the ability to conduct proper stress inoculation, when the officers are out in the field, they can be more prone to react emotionally under pressure. However, by using the tools available from VirTra, these problems can be addressed to avoid negative headlines and let everyone go home safely at the end of the day.
In the long run, there is always room for improvement. The results from the study are just the start of something remarkable that shows that with the right amount of stress induced in the training environment that your team can learn how to react better under pressure. VirTra’s unique training content brings a level of realism unmatched by others, and the research shows the difference. By pairing the VirTra Threat-Fire with the immersive and adaptive scenarios available exclusively through VirTra, your team can see these changes in performance too.