Written by Michelle Henderson – December 8, 2020
The Value of Realistic Scenario-based Training
As 2020 ends, a virtual event has brought into perspective one of law enforcement’s major challenges: How do you improve use-of-force training and prove that your officers have taken it? In December 2020, an answer came from the Daigle Law Group (https://daiglelawgroup.com), one of the nation’s leading law firms specializing in the development of effective and constitutional policing practices. The firm held its annual Use of Force summit from December 1 to 3, this time virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The theme of this year’s summit was: “Working together to find our way forward. Working together, we must continue to educate ourselves in order to better protect our communities.” With 20+ experts covering 40+ topics, the summit reflected the hot issues surrounding use of force as we ended some of the most contentious months in law enforcement history. Topics such as the following covered not only the officer use-of-force dilemma, but also the reactions of the public they serve:
- Tracking and Assessing Training Participation and Performance
- The Role of Media and “Weaponizing Video Evidence” in Use-of-Force Cases
- Tactical Communication, including De-escalation and Mental Health Response
- Legal Matters, e.g. Civil Liability, Qualified Immunity, Training Officer Liability
- Protests, Crowd Management and First Amendment Rights
- Legal Justification vs. Avoidable Mistakes
These problems, of course, did not originate in 2020. Nor are they likely to disappear soon. Instead, they provide the background for crafting policy at the departmental, municipal, state and federal level. Yet while these and other questions point to key policy issues, training must also be first and foremost in the minds of government officials and law enforcement officers. As we conclude 2020, InVeris suggests that it would be helpful to realize that examining training standards is “equally important” to updating policies.
Matching policy with training: Five points to consider
Effective training turns policy into “wise action” that protects officers as well as communities. A sound guide to this training is in the National Consensus Discussion Paper on Use of Force, published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) this past July amidst the serious unrest confronting the nation.1
Based on this paper, InVeris proposes five points to consider as we move into the new year:
- Regular use-of-force training is as important as policy. IACP is clear about the necessity of training: While it is crucial that law enforcement agencies develop a clear, concise policy regarding the use of force, it is “equally important that officers are completely familiar with and fully understand the policy and any applicable laws. Officers should receive training on their agency’s use-of-force policy and any accompanying legal updates on at least an annual basis.”
- Judgmental training must include de-escalation and approved less-lethal options. The paper says that training should be provided on all approved force options and techniques permitted by agency policy, along with regular refresher training that includes a review of the policy and hands-on, practical training. Per IACP: “Officers should also receive regular and periodic training related to de-escalation techniques and the importance of de-escalation as a tactic,” as well as training designed to enhance officers’ discretion and judgment in using less-lethal and deadly force.
- Training should simulate actual shooting situations and conditions that officers are likely to confront. Officers need to be prepared for night or reduced light shooting, shooting at moving targets, primary- or secondary-hand firing, and combat simulation shooting. As IACP states: “Firearms training should attempt to simulate the actual environment and circumstances of foreseeable encounters in the community setting, whether urban, suburban, or rural.” For example, InVeris provides both simulation equipment, including our new virtual reality hardware, and software with hundreds of scenarios. The aim is to duplicate real-world engagements from the setting to the unpredictable challenge to officer weapons and options.
- Without following through on a commitment to training, municipalities, law enforcement agencies, and even training officers may face liability for lack of training. Notes IACP: “Law enforcement administrators, agencies, and parent jurisdictions may be held liable for the actions of their officers should they be unable to verify that appropriate and adequate training has been received and that officers have successfully passed any testing or certification requirements.”
- Bottom line: Document that your officers receive the right training for legal and performance improvement purposes. IACP concludes the paper with an emphasis on tracking and assessment: “Accordingly, agencies must provide responsive training, and all records of training received by officers must be accurately maintained for later verification.” In other words, evidence of training through documentation is essential. The value of this data goes beyond legal justification. As one of the summit sessions explained using a traditional quality management dictum: “What gets measured can be improved.”
InVeris Training Solutions: Your proud partner for the way ahead
The measures mentioned above can be safeguards into the new year, where improved policies and training can avoid the at-times tragic miscommunications and misunderstandings of 2020.
This year, when the former Meggitt Training Systems became InVeris Training Solutions, we established a new promise to our law enforcement and military customers and end users: We proudly stand with you. Providing the world’s premier training solutions when split-seconds matter. “InVeris” connotes insight and truth. The rebranding reflects the company’s pride in standing behind the bravest, best-trained men and women around the world and to providing comprehensive training solutions that prepare them to act at a moment’s notice to protect the communities and countries they serve.
As we go forward together into 2021, InVeris invites you to let us know how we can best fulfill your changing requirements. Contact us at 1-678-288-1090 or ITS-LESales@inveristraining.com.
1 You can retrieve the full document at https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/National_Consensus_Policy_On_Use_Of_Force%2007102020%20v3.pdf