Posted on Feb. 14, 2023 by Niki Nelson

VirTra is known for preparing law enforcement officers using simulation training, but it goes beyond that. It can be a way to train officers while they are on administrative leave after a critical incident, or even a way to let officers work through past traumatic events.

Whether it is for training brand new recruits or helping officers brush up on existing skillsets, the following two cases show unique and impactful ways the VirTra simulator can be used.

Administrative Leave Does Not Mean Officers Have to “be on Leave”

For many people, hearing that a person is on “leave” means they are out of the office or workplace. “Administrative leave” can differ based on agency. This doesn’t have to be the case for officers – and it isn’t for Denver PD and Aurora PD. It is normal for an officer to be on non-enforcement duties while a critical incident is being investigated in these agencies.

According to a Denver Gazette article, having an officer on paid leave doesn’t cause a deficit in resources since most wish to continue helping the agency, despite being behind the scenes. Those who have been away from the beat for a while often brush up on their training by using the Denver PD VirTra simulator.

Another option that agencies may have considered is using the simulator to see if the officer involved in a shooting is mentally and emotionally ready to perform their duties. It is possible for an officer to be working through trauma to allow them to perform at pre-event levels.

Combating PTSD/PTSI and Traumatic Experiences

Officers are not only away from the job after a critical incident due to investigations, but also for their own mental wellness. Even though officers have been trained to respond with deadly force if it is the correct option, being involved in the shooting of another person can be highly traumatic.

In an interview by Dr. LaMaurice Gardner, Psy.D., the effects of PTSD are discussed and compared to that of seeing a ‘ghost.’ Dr. Gardner points to a painting of several soldiers either surrendering, running, or frozen in fear as a grim reaper-like figure stands over them. This ghost represents their fear – because what will happen if the soldiers turn around and walk towards the ghost? They will simply go right through it, as it is not a physical barrier, but a mental one.

How does simulation training come into play? Like Denver PD, it can be used to review tactics – or even get a look at an officer’s ability to perform after involvement in a traumatic critical incident. Dr. Gardner has experience as a Detroit PD Psychologist and Reserve Deputy for Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, allowing him to assist officers going through these experiences.

“The VirTra machine is an opportunity to expose my officers to situations that are similar to what they have gone through,” said Dr. Gardner. He begins by exposing the officers to a marksmanship range with targets they must fire upon. Gradually as they become more comfortable and confident, they will go into a scenario. The scenario may have them needing to use force – possibly the first time since the critical incident they were a part of. The use of the VirTra simulator is only part of Dr. Gardner’s process.

Obtaining a VirTra Simulator

Whether you are interested in making a capital purchase, using a police grant, or utilizing our STEP program, VirTra’s specialists are here for you every step of the way. Contact a product specialist to learn more.

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