The hidden advantage in shoot/don't shoot simulation exercises for police recruit training

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During the past thirty-five years, developments in computer-related technology have been providing increasingly more sophisticated simulation alternatives for training law enforcement officers. Such developments have leveraged on the back of progress achieved in the aviation, military and medical professions as law enforcement educators seek to address the challenges of training for high-risk, high-stakes professional environments. While globally, simulation based learning exercises are at the forefront in use-of-force training with firearms for police recruits there is limited published research which views the influence of these exercises on operational practice through the lens of the police recruit as they engage with the demands of their volatile, unpredictable workplace. This paper discusses a case study of a cohort of 372 police recruits whose police academy education program included participation in simulation based learning exercises centred on decision making in use-of-force. The pivotal inclusion in the study was the opportunity for the police recruits to reflect on the influence of the simulation exercise experience from an operational perspective. The study revealed an unvoiced advantage - while trainers are focussing on the amount of ammunition used, the marksmanship accuracy, and the justification for the use-of-force, the students are unconsciously building a repertoire of realistic experiences as a reference library for the moment of decision in real life shoot/don't shoot incidents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-30
Number of pages15
JournalSalus Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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