These are challenging times to be in law enforcement, which makes it even more important for those who are ultimately responsible for their welfare — their trainers, supervisors, and chiefs — to ensure that they are fully equipped with the right R.I.G.
We’re not talking about their physical rig like body armor, sidearms, and comm devices, however. When we say RIG, we’re referring to (R)eflexes, (I)nstincts, and (G)ood Judgment.
How do we give our officers the right Reflexes, Instincts, and Good Judgment in the midst of high-stress situations?
How do we ensure that our officers are equipped with all the mental tools they need to respond to high stress situations that elicit the “fight or flight” response first described by psychologist Walter Cannon in the 1920s — when their adrenaline is pumping, their pupils are dilating, and their hearts are racing?
How do we give them the right reflexes, instincts, and good judgment?
The answer, as trite as it might sound, is: Training.
In a landmark 2021 study titled A Reasonable Officer: Examining the Relationships Among Stress, Training, and Performance in a Highly Realistic Lethal Force Scenario, researchers from Carleton University in Canada revealed that, in extremely stressful scenarios, multiple aspects of police performance are impaired including shooting accuracy, quality of skill execution, proportionality of force applied, and memory.
But here’s the catch: According to the researchers, “stress response also appears to have differential effects, whereby rehearsed and automated skills are influenced to a lesser degree.” This is a fancy way of saying that the more officers have trained (rehearsed), and the more automated (instinctive, reflexive) their skills, then the less their performance degrades, including the proportionality of force (good judgment) they apply in high-stress situations.
Scenario-based training: The best law enforcement training for high-stress situations
The researchers go on to cite a wide range of training techniques that can improve performance even under high-stress, including spaced practice, providing the appropriate feedback, and scenario-based training.
Scenario-based training (SBT) is particularly effective, since it can gradually “inoculate” officers by exposing them to simulated high stress situations, so that their skills and performance become “stress-resilient.”
Multiple studies, including The effect of stress inoculation training on anxiety and performance, by Saunders, et al., (1996), and Pressure training for performance domains: a meta-analysis, by Low, et al., (2021) have shown that SBT measurably improves performance under high stress.
Are you providing scenario-based training for your officers?
Given the challenges law enforcement faces on a daily basis, and especially in those rare, high-stress situations, we owe it to them to make sure that they are equipped with the right RIG.
The only way we can do that is to have them rehearse their responses, reactions, techniques, and tactics in simulated scenarios repeatedly and deliberately, until they become part of their inner mental toolbox.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about InVeris Training Solutions’ full lineup of live fire, simulation, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) training systems for law enforcement, military and commercial shooting range applications.
November 4, 2022
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