At the core of the skill set of the law enforcement officer is the capacity to use deadly force effectively under the pressure of life and death consequences. Use-of-force decision making has a profound impact on the community, the law enforcement agency, and the officer. The relative infrequency and unpredictability of deadly force encounters creates a significant training challenge. According to conventional wisdom, the officer who has previously faced a deadly force encounter brings the benefit of prior experience, a sense of having been there before, which translates into an enhanced ability to perform under pressure. This raises the question of how to best prepare officers to perform when they face their first deadly force situation. While there is no substitute for experience, the best alternative is high-fidelity simulation, where skill sets are challenged in a realistic training environment.
Roanoke, Virginia, Police Department has more than 10 years of experience with a high-fidelity simulation training program focused on officer survival. The program is a collaboration between department staff and an experienced police consultant trained as a sport psychologist.