Tuesday, February 28, 2023

My Performance on a Police Use of Force Training Simulator Pt 2

Virta Simulator File Photo

This article is the second in a series discussing my experiences training on a sophisticated police use of force training simulator or PTS. During the training session, I completed several law enforcement-themed scenarios including domestic disturbances, drug-related incidents, a robbery at a convenience store, and several active killer incidents. It was an interesting experience and I was satisfied with my performance overall since I did not get shot in any of the scenarios. However, in some of the scenarios I did not act quickly enough to stop the perpetrator from other harming others. 

One scenario involved a dispute between two neighbors who lived in different houses across the street from me. Since these scenarios were LEO-focused, even though I was at home, I was acting in the role of a police officer. When the scenario begins, I hear loud yelling coming from across the street and go to investigate. As I step around the blind corner of a garage leading to an area between two houses I see a man holding a shotgun at his waist and pointed at a woman. Both individuals are loudly arguing about something.

I draw my pistol, point it at the man, and command him to drop the shotgun. He immediately complies and places the shotgun on the ground, steps back, and raises his hands. I lower my pistol to low ready and that was the extent of my actions in that moment. The woman continues loudly yelling at the man and he becomes more agitated. Thirty seconds or so pass and suddenly he lunges for the shotgun, picks it up, aims at the woman, and shoots her in the chest. A soon as he aims it toward the woman, I shoot him—he goes down; however, I was not fast enough to prevent him from killing the woman.

As I completed several scenarios, I did not hesitate when the threat was directed at me. However, when I was not immediately threatened, I experienced an instant of hesitation deciding whether I should act. My hesitation resulted in several people being “killed.” As I reviewed my performance after the training, I realized I was approaching the scenarios with a private citizen mindset and not the mindset of a police officer. The last time I wore a police uniform was 1983–almost 40 years ago—so in retrospect I guess this is not surprising. Over the years I have given careful thought to what situations I will and will not get involved in and in all but extremely rare occasions, stay out of other people’s business.

Practicing reactions to deadly force scenarios or other emergencies increases our confidence, and increased confidence lowers
our body's stress response when we actually face dangerous situations. Our field of vision is not as narrow as it might be otherwise, and our tendency to fixate on a "fear object" or other distraction diminishes. Because our brain is in a more relaxed state, it is more able to dedicate resources to creatively addressing new challenges (for example, incoming gunfire from an unexpected direction).

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