When an officer lets their emotions get the best of them, they often show signs of it before any drastic actions occur. This is a crucial window where the officer’s partner can intervene before they lose control. If signs are ignored, it could progress and lead to excessive force or another violation of a person’s Constitutional rights.
Does your agency have policies in place for intervention? Are your officers prepared to intervene? If your answer to both of these questions is not a solid and immediate ‘yes,’ then it is time to consider solidifying intervention procedures. By emphasizing the importance of reporting misconduct and establishing a plan when witnessing it, you are protecting both your staff and the community.
VirTra has created V-VICTA® curriculum dedicated to informing agencies about officers’ duty to intervene as well as how to go about it. Simulated scenarios based off real-life events are paired with an easy-to-follow lesson plan and engaging training videos. Aptly titled “Duty to Intervene,” this course has gone through rigorous review to receive NCP certification from IADLEST.
While policies and the way agencies train vary by state, one thing certain is that every officer – regardless of rank or seniority – has the duty to intervene. It is vital to incorporate it into your training program in some way, and there have been creative methods used.
One such example is Utah Attorney General’s Office who hosts training courses dedicated entirely to the duty to intervene. Training Specialist Will Fowlke has blended VirTra into several training topics throughout the years. The latest addition is Duty to Intervene.
Utah Attorney General’s Office hosted a 2-hour training course addressing the duty to intervene and importance of reporting misconduct. The course uses excerpts from VirTra’s Duty to Intervene curriculum and utilizes scenarios on their V-300®.
“The scenarios we use include Crowd Control, Constitutionalist, Tire Tantrum, and VirTra’s new Duty to Intervene Vignettes Series that include five custom made vignettes designed to hone officers’ intervention skills” said Mr. Fowlke when discussing the utilization of scenarios during the course. “We selected these scenarios to address unconstitutional use of force, unconstitutional search and seizure, and biased police practices.” The course allows attending officers to review and analyze body cam footage. Analyzing known protest incidents helps officers learn the right and wrong ways to intervene.
Mr. Fowlke stated that he received positive feedback on the course. Participants noted that being able to review footage and participate in hands-on simulator training was helpful. In the past, Utah Attorney General’s Office has created training for Autism, Active Shooter, and other topics while utilizing VirTra’s scenarios.
If you would like to learn how you can incorporate simulated scenarios into your existing training regime, contact a specialist.
Law enforcement trainers should provide the most realistic use of force simulator training scenarios for their trainees. This requires building a lifelike environment, down to the weapons used and sounds heard. While these aspects allow students to be engaged physically, how will trainees be engaged mentally? Creating the perfect high-fidelity training environment is more than mimicking a setting—it is a balance of recreating both the physical and psychological state of a situation.
Physical fidelity is the extent to which the conditions of the training program, such as equipment, tasks and surroundings, mirror those in performance situations (Werner & DeSimone, 2012). For example, consider the V-300® training simulator. Creating an environment with physical fidelity is as simple as uploading a scenario, then outfitting trainees with a real belt, gun (with a drop-in laser recoil kit for simulator training), and less lethal. Further realism can be achieved with V-Threat-Fire®, whose electric shock gives trainees pain repercussions.
Adding physical fidelity to training sessions provides immeasurable value to students as they learn how to navigate situations before going into the field. However, perfect physical fidelity in training is expensive to obtain as the costs rise with the realism of the surroundings.
As instructors are aware, training requires more than a realistic setting. This is where psychological fidelity comes into play. Known as the mental side of training, psychological fidelity refers to how closely the situation engages students in the same mental processes experienced in the field.
One of the most efficient ways to create a powerful psychological environment is through stress. An officer’s work is demanding and causes stress levels to rise during critical moments. This stress leads to a chemical change with an adrenaline response, which effects a person’s physical and cognitive abilities—namely reasoning, problem solving and effective speech.
By placing law enforcement trainees in situations such as simulated events that successfully mimic stressful psychological fidelity, students quickly learn how stress and other powerful emotions affect them and can inoculate these responses before entering the field.
Instructors can maximize their training by balancing physical and psychological fidelity. Take full advantage of training time and resources by training with our simulators. The corresponding scenarios offer psychological fidelity in emotional and stress-inducing situations, while providing psychological fidelity with realistic weapons and tools. For more information on use of force simulator training, please contact us.
Virtual reality of all kinds has taken the world by storm and offered unique ways to learn. This does not just apply to first responders either – VR is used everywhere from the medical field to cell phone provider retailers. From screen-based to headsets, their use has gone far beyond just entertainment.
Simulation training is not a new concept, despite all the new military and law enforcement technology training options. In the mid- to late-1900’s, simulation took the form of medical dummies and models of limbs (Singleton, 2022). It has been a method for trainees in various careers to learn from experience in a safe environment. What has changed is the technology – but the training points of learning by doing have stayed the same.
Just like simulation training in general, VirTra’s products have also evolved with time. The end goal of ensuring police officers and military servicemembers get home safely every night is something that has not changed. Some of our notable evolutions include 4K projection – something that has yet to be done in the law enforcement simulation training industry.
VirTra announced the V-300® 4K nearly three years ago at IACP 2019. Simulators with these projectors were shipped to clients around the world in 2020. Many law enforcement agencies have taken advantage of this unique high-definition technology – one example is Orlando PD. They have been able to train their de-escalation tactics as well as practice interactions with those who have a mental illness.
The 4K projectors allow high-quality video projection to be displayed on the screens of the training simulator. Law enforcement officers can benefit from the increased detail, allowing them to notice subtle cues such as facial expressions and movements. The 4K simulator has made law enforcement use of force training much more realistic than before.
Some types of simulation technology take time to evolve into a reliable source of training. CGI is commonly used, but does not show realistic images. While CGI in movies and video games has come a long way, many simulation companies that utilize CGI in virtual reality training have low quality images. This causes the simulation to appear like a 90’s video game character rather than a real person.
Not only will trainees miss out on learning to detect subtle movements, they will also have a harder time relating to the character as they would towards a human – or at least something that looks like one. The Uncanny Valley effect theorizes that people can be repulsed by something that looks vaguely human, but not quite (Mori, 2012).
Fidelity is a term commonly used for military and law enforcement training. Did you know there are two vital types?
Physical fidelity relates to having a realistic setting. This includes being able to see from more than just one angle (such as by using a multi-screen system), and using the same tools that are utilized in the field. This can include the same CEW device, duty weapon, flashlight, etc.
Psychological fidelity is when trainees engage in the same mental processes as they do in the field. This is where realistic visuals come in, as an environment that looks “fake” may not appropriately represent the setting. Cadets may not take unrealistic training seriously.
Both types of fidelity should be present to maximize training efforts. Warfighters and law enforcement must find their training environment ‘believable’ in order to get the most out of it and stay safer on the streets.
Work must be done to perfect newer technologies before those who protect our communities rely on it. It is vital to choose training that makes the trainee’s heart rate increase and adrenaline pumping. With these parameters, skill transfer is possible.
Contact a specialist to learn about the V-300 4K and how it can prepare trainees for the field by providing lifelike experiences in a safe environment.
Singleton, M. (2022, July 31). Flashback Friday – Practice Makes Perfect: The History of Simulation. Retrieved from Virginia Nursing EDU: https://www.nursing.virginia.edu/news/flashback-history-of-simulation/
Mori, M. (2012). Translated by MacDorman, K. F.; Kageki, Norri. “The uncanny valley”. IEEE Robotics and Automation. 19 (2): 98–100. doi:10.1109/MRA.2012.2192811
Every once in a while, you hear about an encounter with a civilian that proved to be a close call. Whether it’s from a news story or a fellow officer, it’s nerve-wracking to think it could happen to you. Even some of VirTra’s training scenarios that recruits might think will never happen, very well could happen.
A recent example of this occurred in Oakland, California. An officer from Oakland Police Department was able to get out of a terrifying situation that may have turned deadly. Crediting the great response of his backup and the solid training he had received, he was unharmed.
Though a knife or gun are the typical weapon of choice, some subjects are more creative, such as the male the Oakland PD officer encountered. The object appeared at first as a long stick from afar, but as they made contact, the officer could see that it was a sheathed sword.
The Oakland officer recalled the following details about this encounter:
“I asked him to put the sword down on the hood of a nearby vehicle. The male complied and I called officers that were on duty and told him to send me cover units for a man armed with a sword. I continued to stall the male while waiting for cover units. The male continued to put his hands in his pocket and continued to move closer to the sword. I continued to tell the male to keep his hands out of his pocket and to back away from the sword. The male would comply but would continue the same behavior. I continued to update on the phone with the officer of the situation while waiting for the cover units. The male continued to move towards the sword. I then grabbed the sword from the hood of the car to prevent him from reaching it.”
The officer’s backup arrived shortly after and were able to take the man into custody with no further issues.
Oakland PD’s Training Academy has been using their V-300® since 2020. Training in the simulator and going through various de-escalations has helped the responding officer make safe decisions quickly. He found that the many scenarios that allow de-escalation and “talking through” situations were of assistance. This was especially the case when he had to delay the agitated male while waiting for backup.
“I believe VirTra is a great training tool and helps prepare officers in dealing with similar situations using practical and realistic scenarios” said the Oakland PD officer. “It allows you to go through scenarios and debrief what went right and what you could possibly do differently. He also mentioned that using VirTra as a training method is fun and keeps officers engaged.
When asked how he believes other officers should utilize VirTra scenarios, he answered simply. “Take the training seriously.” Instead of gaming the system or running through scenarios as if they were just a ‘check-the-box’ training event, go through them as if they were really happening, he suggested.
VirTra’s scenarios are filmed in video – not unrealistic CGI – for exactly this reason. Content developers and subject matter experts believe in the power of high-fidelity scenarios to create lifelike events. Every situation is different; some requiring force, others requiring verbal communication. In the story told by the Oakland PD officer, he was able to resolve a terrifying situation by simply communicating.
“I think the most important thing in these situations is to remain calm and rely on your training and the help of your fellow officers,” he said in conclusion after recounting the event.
*Special thanks to Oakland PD and the Oakland Training Academy for sharing their success story.
There are key phrases that we hear in law enforcement training and culture. These include “I got your six” “watch your six” or “check your six.” These are referencing the importance of being able to look behind you at the 6 o’clock position to keep yourself safe and not get ambushed from behind. This “checking six” could be done by you by keeping your head “on a swivel” or by a partner who is “covering your six.”
These phrases are embedded in the vernacular of law enforcement and the military. Why is this the case? Because history has shown the attack we don’t see coming is the one that is going to take us out. By getting in the habit of “checking 6” we can negate the danger that resides in attacks from behind. These are an overwhelming threat, which needs to be addressed and trained for. With this principle being so critical to officer safety, why do we do such a horrible job training for them?
I have watched what Pat McNamara has called range theatrics – or what others have called the range dance. Where after a live-fire string we do a ‘body-turn, head-turn’ pretending to “check six” but don’t see anything. I have held up large printed cards and fingers and asked folks after their dance to tell me what they saw. I have held up fingers to see if they can identify the number and which ones are up. The universal answer is, “what do you mean?” The reason for this answer is that they don’t actually “see” anything. When it came to the fingers it was usually one held up and you can imagine which one based on the lack of situational awareness ability demonstrated.
This same thing can happen with single-screen training simulators. If not used properly, with a single-screen system, you are running the risk of building in training scars. The concept that we “don’t rise to the occasion, we default to our lowest level of training” has to be evaluated in this light. If we are creating emotional states inside the simulation (and we should be) yet we are not engaging in physical and mental skills we need in the real world, we could be creating failure points.
Single-screen systems are insanely difficult to create reverse angles on – not impossible, but difficult. The minimum standard to ensure this task can be done with high fidelity is a 180-degree system. This allows for that reverse angle to be threatened and the need to “check six.” You can create points of reference that requires the participant’s scan behavior by using simulated doors and windows taped off in a single-screen room, but that is not high fidelity. VirTra knew the value of a multiscreen system over 20 years ago – despite naysayers arguing that it was “too much” and “unnecessary.” VirTra pushed the training principle anyway.
I get it – most agencies will buy a single screen system and be thrilled they are running their judgmental shoot or weapon transitions. It is not bad to train with them if you are short on space, but it does not take much more room to set up a 180-degree high-quality simulator and force these angles. When it comes to purchasing a 180-degree or 300-degree system, I have heard the arguments on cost as well. VirTra offers a STEP program where access to the simulator is subscription-based and not a large capital purchase. This STEP program allows much access to a high-fidelity 180-degree/300-degree simulator for a lower starting point.
You can find space, even pairing up and hosting it with a research institute. There are ways to make high-quality high-fidelity 180-degree or ideally 300-degree simulators affordable, which are amazing training tools. They can be used for active threat/active killer (ATAK), TASER training, de-escalation, VirTra is here to make it affordable with the STEP program, because we got your six (IGY6)!
For more information on the STEP program, our content or our simulators, Contact Us.
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.
To read the study referenced, click here. You can also contact us to learn more about our simulators and how we can help provide transferrable training.
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
“Keep your head on a swivel!” It is a phrase drilled into every trainee, every officer consistently by all instructors. There is no wonder why; knowing your surroundings at all times is critical, as it allows you to pinpoint threats, alternate routes, people in danger and more. But for this action to become second-nature, it must be practiced constantly, starting in the academy and continuing throughout one’s policing career.
The good news is that most training events can teach officers to keep their heads on a swivel. For example, VirTra’s V-180® and V-300® immersive training simulators are designed to do just that.
The V-180 is a three-screen, 180-degree simulator which officers step up to. By surrounding the officer in VirTra’s seamless high-resolution video, officers feel like they are standing in the shown environment—not the classroom. As the scenario progresses, people and actions will occur on all three screens, teaching trainees to look around the alley, home, or other shown environment to fully understand the situation. To further training and reduce repetition, instructors have the ability to alter branches in the event, thus creating new events on different screens.
While the V-180 is a powerful training tool, the V-300 is the best law enforcement training simulator on the market. Instead of 3 screens, the V-300 boasts 5 screens, which surrounds officers in 300-degrees of real-life action. This training simulator takes the lesson “keep your head on a swivel” to the next level by requiring officers to move around the simulator to get all angles on the situation.
A bigger training simulator allows more officers to train simultaneously, such as a unit, learning to cover one another. Having more screens also allows the scenario to feature events on more screens, which is shown in the VirTra scenario below. Watch as these officers engage in an Active Threat / Active Killer situation, which forces them to move around the simulator to pinpoint and stop all threats.
Teaching your officers to keep their heads on a swivel is a critical tool that may save their lives—and the lives of civilians and suspects alike—in the field. To learn more about how VirTra can aid in this skill, or try it for yourself at an upcoming trade show, talk to a VirTra specialist.
When coming out of a training event that is meant to depict a real-life crisis situation, law enforcement officers should not feel relaxed as if it was a walk in the park. Truly realistic training will get your heart rate up as you go through stressful scenarios with unexpected outcomes – similar to what happens in real life when law enforcement officers enter an unpredictable crisis.
The point is that training needs to be taken seriously, not treated like a video game. With realistic on-screen characters, accurate marksmanship and true-to-life training points, cadets realize that it is serious training. This is why VirTra’s video-based scenarios are filmed in 4K with real people instead of computer-generated images (CGI). CGI that is commonly seen in older simulator programs and virtual reality headsets depict characters that don’t show the same subtle nuances and facial expressions as real people. While the latest movies have shown that CGI has come a very long way, it is not there yet in terms of being an effective method of training.
Lowell Police Department in Massachusetts have recently begun the use of an immersive VirTra V-300® five-screen simulator thanks to the help of grant money. An article in the Lowell Sun discussed Lowell PD’s use of the new technology, how it helps officers and why it is an important method of training. Police Superintendent Kelly Richardson let reporters know how trainees react when placed in the simulator and how it has caused stress responses.
“It’s so real, they’re sweating, the whole nine yards and afterwards they say after something like ‘this is exhausting.’ They actually check their heart rates when they’re done,” Richardson said. The article noted that during an active threat scenario, officers at Lowell PD have shown reactions indicating an adrenaline response.
Another law enforcement member of Lowell PD, Officer Ramos, thought the simulator would be more like a video game. Ramos was surprised to see that the “scenarios resemble the calls he has been dispatched to over his 16 years as an officer” according to the same article.
To learn more about how VirTra can help your agency take training seriously while obtaining necessary skills, contact a product specialist.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has labeled and identified 277 incidents of an “active shooter” between 2000 and 2018. These terrible incidents resulted in 2,430 casualties—884 people killed and 1,546 wounded—not counting the shooters.
Unfortunately, this number continues to rise. The year 2018 held 27 incidents, 213 casualties, 2 law enforcement personnel killed and 6 law enforcement officers wounded.
But in 2019, the numbers rose to 28 incidents, 247 casualties, 2 law enforcement personnel killed and 15 law enforcement personnel wounded. In addition, the number of incidents meeting the “mass killing” definition rose, as did the number of shooters wearing body armor and the total number of shooters.
Switching gears from incidents of an active shooter to mass shooting incidents, the number has also sharply increased over the years. The infographic below uses information from the Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as “a minimum of four victims shot (either fatally or not) excluding any shooter killed or injured in the attack.”
In just the past six years, the number of identified mass shooting incidents has almost doubled. And despite the pandemic, lockdowns and increased personal security, 2020 has been the highest number of mass shooting incidents.
What this means to departments everywhere: active shooter events are on the rise, so must also be officer training and preparedness. Though eliminating the number of active shooter events is the ultimate goal, officers everywhere must also be heavily trained on this topic, should it happen in their community.
Over the course of the last few years, departments everywhere have begun implementing a wide variety of techniques designed to prepare officers for active shooter situations. While many of these training solutions are beneficial, VirTra would like to introduce the most immersive, skill-transferring and certified active shooter training solution.
The V-300® is a highly realistic, 5-screen simulator that immerses the officer in the chosen scenario. A combination of high-resolution visuals and surround sound help increase the physical and psychological fidelity of the situation, making an officer’s responses similar to the same incident in the field. Instructors can select from one of the many active shooter scenarios, allowing officers to practice and transfer skills learned in the classroom to the simulator—then ultimately to the field.
For example, watch this video as officers enter a real VirTra Active Threat/Active Killer scenario from its latest release of V-VICTA curriculum and immediately take necessary steps to mitigate: view here.
By combining stress inoculation, rapid decision-making and tactical firearms training, officers receive a higher quality training that cannot be replicated by other training simulator “solutions”, lectures or even role-playing. In the case of Active Threat/Active Killers, VirTra also offers certified curriculum to supplement classroom learning before officers step into the simulator.
V-VICTA™ curriculum—Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy—comes free with all law enforcement simulators. Each curriculum is developed exclusively with nationally-recognized partners, maximizes training time and is nationally-certified.
As such, the Active Threat/Active Killer curriculum was critically reviewed by members of IADLEST and passed the rigors of their independent review process. This presents instructors with training hours and pre-packaged classroom curriculum and corresponding simulator scenarios to teach, train, test and sustain all officers.
Prepare your officers to the best of your abilities. For more information on integrating Active Threat/Active Shooter (ATAK) curriculum in your department, contact a VirTra specialist.
Police academies and departments across the nation utilize a wide variety of methods and strategies to train new law enforcement officers. This can consist of roleplaying, lectures, trips to the range and so forth.
While each form of training has its benefits, they all fall short when utilized alone or siloed. This is because many training methods cannot account for the unpredictability officers will experience in the field, nor do they realistically immerse the trainees in the given scenario. This is why VirTra’s immersive simulators, such as the VirTra 300-degree judgmental use of force law enforcement simulator, provides a far more effective training.
The immerse quality is more than the physical immersion, though the V-300’s five screens do physically immerse trainees and officers, once they step into the simulator. Rather, immersion is taken to the next level with surround sound audio and integrated and interactive characters on each screen. In addition to this are the accessories: the Threat-Fire® provides real-life consequences and stress inoculation while VirTra’s recoil kits and CO2 magazines allow officers to utilize their personal firearms within the simulator. Instructors can take advantage of these immersive qualities to train officers in a variety of real-life situations from a safe, controlled and realistic environment.
Law enforcement officials must work with unprecedented levels of environmental and situational unpredictability. After all, it’s a part of the job. While it is possible to account for some of the variables an officer might face, it is impossible to account for every variable in every situation, every day.
While lectures are important—after all, discussing the correct order of events provides direction and understanding—it cannot be the only form of training. Instructors can take training to the next level with roleplaying, though going through a scripted situation can only provide so much additional training. Simply put, there are no traditional teaching methods that can best prepare officers for the modern uncertainty they could face at any moment.
Even though there is a time and place for lecture-based and scenario-based training, trainees must train with immersive simulators to gain the best possible experience with ever changing outcomes in the moment based on the actions and reactions of the students. VirTra combines state-of-the-art technologies, certified curriculum and professional research to create a highly realistic training environment that increases and transfers skills to the field.
Instead of being told how to work through scenarios, trainees are placed in the middle of any given situation. The scenario begins with a voiceover of the police call from dispatch, then opening on the scene. After, trainees must engage with the subject(s) and make decisions to discover the best possible outcome. Each VirTra judgmental scenario is equipped with extensive branching options, allowing the instructor to choose the path of the scenario, based on the trainee’s decisions and actions inside the simulator. Training after this manner allows officers to engage in the same scenario multiple times, but receive a different ending each time, based on mistakes or proper choices made.
At the end of the day, immersive scenario-based training establishes critical thinking and potentially life-saving skills that lectures. By surrounding trainees visually and auditorily, officers treat the training more seriously and find themselves engrossed in the situation.
Though VirTra’s simulators cannot completely replace other forms of training—such as live fire—it complements these skills and provides a foundation for an officer to build off of.
One of the most beneficial parts of the VirTra simulators is the debrief ability. After the scenario ends, instructors and trainees can replay the scenario and see what the trainee did correctly or mistakes that could have been avoided. The real-time play back, Picture-in-Picture playback videos and after-action provides extra training elaboration. No traditional method of training provides this debriefing opportunity or is as effective at helping officers understand the consequences of their actions.
VirTra’s immersive judgmental use of force simulator is a critical component of any department’s training program. Help your officers learn, build and maintain skills in the most realistic way possible with this immersive technology. To learn more, contact a VirTra specialist.