Using Heart Rate Monitors in Law Enforcement Training

Although law enforcement officers are as proactive as possible, the very nature of the job often requires them to be reactionary. Officers must be able to perform and make split-second decisions “in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.”1 In order to be successful, officers must be able to maintain control of themselves and stay within their baseline of optimal performance. This is a tough task as the subject controls the fight by deciding when it will start, where it will start, how long it will last, and when it will resume. The officer may initiate physical contact, but that decision is based on the perceived level of threat exhibited by the subject. The officer may use an empty-hands tactic or deploy an intermediary tool, but the subject decides whether or not to cease resisting. Even in nonphysical encounters, the subject sets the tone by choosing whether or not to comply with the officer’s legal commands. In both physical and nonphysical encounters, there is an arousal of the central nervous system, commonly known as stress, which, if left unchecked, can lead to fight, flight, or freeze situations that can be avoided. Understanding the concept of pace can help officers combat stress and maintain control of themselves and the outcome of their encounter.