Posted on Oct. 27, 2020 by Christopher Dorch

As every officer knows and understands, de-escalation is always the most preferred solution to a tense interaction. However, verbal de-escalation is not always possible.

Many law enforcement officers may begin a difficult situation by implementing de-escalation tactics, only to be forced to use less lethal options. In some cases, police officers are forced to resort to defensive tactics or other forms of physical interactions to mitigate harm or bring a subject into custody.

While de-escalation, less lethal and judgmental use of force are often discussed and training on these topics have increased, instructors need to remember the importance of teaching police Defensive Tactics (DT) and other potentially life-saving skills. After all, officers need to be prepared for any situation and equipped with a full duty belt and extensive knowledge.

The best way to prepare police officers in DT and similar skills is in an immersive, judgmental use of force simulator.

Making Decisions Under Pressure

Since each VirTra simulator is equipped with surround sound, high resolution visuals and realistic branching options, from the moment a trainee or officer enters the simulator, they are immediately immersed in the training scenario. The best training simulator of all is the V-300®—a 5-screen, 300-degree immersive simulator—designed for powerful training and skill transfer. Each scenario is based off of real-life events, which are often difficult, stressful and full of stimuli, making it incredibly realistic.

Instructors can take advantage of this by adding another training element to the simulator: an actor in an impact reduction suit. After the officer has entered the scenario and has begun interacting with the characters on screen, instructors or other officers can step inside and confront the officer, prompt a fight, or in otherwise, encourage practicing DT in a realistic situation.

With the simulator immersing the officer in a different environment with different subjects on screen requiring attention, this forces the officer to make difficult decisions under pressure and practice under high stress circumstances, even though the environment is safe and controlled.

Increases Training Realism

As mentioned above, the judgmental use of force simulator immerses officers in a realistic environment. While increasing realism and skill transfer, practicing DT in this manner also breaks away from block training. Rather than requiring officers to stand in a large classroom surrounded by mats, performing the same moves in numbered repetitions, this requires officers to think, adapt and make unforeseen, split-second decisions.

This is where the real learning and skill building comes in. After training in the simulator like this in multiple sessions over a period of time, the skill becomes long-lasting and easily accessed in the field.

Challenges and Long-Term Memory

Another important reason to train in DT in a police training simulator is how it challenges officers. Building off the previous point: training in this environment is more difficult than the quieter, less stimulating classroom setting.

Instructors may want to begin practicing skills such as law enforcement Defense Tactics in the classroom setting, but should practice the skill in multiple ways for the information to be stored in long-term memory. Along with variety is the challenge itself: if it doesn’t challenge an officer, it will not change the officer.

People naturally grow and learn when we are challenged, which is especially true in training. To ensure the best results, instructors should create measurable, well-defined and obtainable goals, then practice these goals in classrooms, in the simulator and wherever else possible.

Through VirTra’s judgmental use of force simulators, officers can practice and become well-developed in a variety of potentially life-saving skills. With an extensive training scenario library found in each simulator, instructors can prepare officers in de-escalation, less lethal, lethal, mental illness, active threats and so much more. To learn more about these powerful training simulators, contact a VirTra specialist.

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