Gaps in Scenario-based Training for Law Enforcement and Best Practice Recommendations

Close the gap between the policing recommendations found in the research and the scenario-based training for police.

Gaps in Scenario-based Training for Law Enforcement and Best Practice Recommendations

May 23 2021

The U.S. Department of Justice produced the "Law Enforcement Best Practices: Lessons Learned from the Field." It's filled with the best practices for law enforcement, but there is a canyon-sized gap between the recommendations and the department level implementation.

The path to implement recommended policies is a challenging uphill battle for most police departments, because each department is expected to create and deploy new training classes to reinforce the policies.

It is too expensive in time and resources for most smaller and mid-sized policing organizations to create and deploy new training classes.

How to balance the recommendations for ongoing law enforcement training

New policies require new skills and knowledge to effectively deal with these issues for all officers. Mazetec is committed to make it easier for all departments to provide ongoing training in a wide variety of areas:

  • Bias awareness
  • Scenario-based, situational decision making
  • Crisis intervention
  • Trauma and victim services
  • Mental health issues
  • Community policing and problem-solving principles

Why recreate each training yourself?


Collaborate instead, copy and deploy training scenarios on Mazetec.



Three core problems that seem to plague every police department:
1. Encounters with mentally ill people

According to current estimates, 6 to 10 percent of law enforcement contacts involve persons with serious mental health issues, but it's difficult for small and mid-sized police forces to coordinate an all day training so you have to break up the training into multiple sessions.

2. De-escalation

Clinical research suggests de-escalation is effective at reducing the transition from aggression to violence or use of force in 80 percent of incidents.

  • De-escalation is a skill to be used when dealing with people in crisis.
  • De-escalation should be more broadly applied to all law enforcement encounters but you need a dynamic training platform like Mazetec to implement it.
3. Community policing

Shifting your officers from the "Warrior" mindset to the "Guardians" of the community.

Where do you find the time to train your officers?

Training for the job vs doing the job, is a tradeoff most people aren't willing to make, but taking the time prevents headaches in the long run. Most departments train once or twice per year, but high-profile events are happening far more frequently. As more training is required departments can't pivot quickly enough to create the training and roll it out. These high-profile events require training, because similar encounters will feel more dangerous and stressful for the officer's involved, these officers may fall back on their training which could be the source of the problem.

"Human performance under stress is affected by psychological, physiological, and biological limitations. Most importantly, cognitive ability can be reduced by up to 80 percent in stressful situations. This means first responders under significant stress may not be able to process information or access language centers of the brain necessary to engage in successful de-escalation. This diminished mental processing capacity—when added to the physiological degradation that occurs when under stress—results in auditory exclusion or functional vision loss that may contribute to unnecessary force escalations." U.S. Department of Justice. 2019. Law Enforcement Best Practices: Lessons Learned from the Field. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.


"How do you pivot a department when the crisis never stops? It's a game of whack-a-mole, as soon as you train for one high-profile case another pops up.


Dr. Quinnett previously wrote about Chief Beary's new method: bite-sized on-demand web-based “training-to-practice” methods were 17 percent more effective than traditional classroom trainings.

Chief Beary identified 4 key factors:

  • Short and frequent: Use scenarios, e.g., an active shooter crisis, for short training lessons. They are more engaging and effective and can be delivered frequently.
  • Online and on-demand: Training studies show a 40% to 60% savings in employee time compared to classroom-style training.
  • Practice decision-making: Interactive life-like scenarios allow officers to practice decision-making skills.
  • Realistic: Much more information can be transferred faster and applied to real-life situations in less time.

Mazetec employs each of these practices enabling organizations to pivot faster and fill the gaps between the once or twice in-person trainings.


Example: Mass Shooter Red Flag Recognition Training

Let's look at an example of the Chief's factors with the benefits of Mazetec

This training below was created by the QPR Institute and they have made it available for anyone copy and deploy to their officers immediately.

Pivot faster with Mazetec and help from the crowd.
  • This training and all trainings are deployed with a link by email or text.
  • No Registration required for officers or trainees
  • Capture who is completing it (name and email, unique links, or tracking tags)
  • Add your own certificate of completion
  • Play it anywhere, anytime, on any device, but can also be played in the classroom with a group.
  • You can copy this training to your account and edit to fit your area's needs.
  • Share your edits or new training scenarios with other departments
  • Trainings are decision driven, easy to create, quick to deploy
  • Contact us to copy this training to your account.




Mazetec provides collaboration space to share law enforcement training scenarios.

Join Mazetec today




Police encounters with mental illness and the gaps between the recommendations and practical applications

Let's look at two recommendations from the "Police Interactions with Persons with a Mental Illness: Police Learning in the Environment of Contemporary Policing".

Recommendation on training for interactions with mentally ill persons:
  1. "That trainers/facilitators have subject matter expertise and experience. Furthermore, for police personnel at least, they should have operational credibility with their peers." pg. 66
  2. "That police/mental health learning for police personnel in preparation for interactions with people with a mental illness is based on a competency profile congruent with bona fide occupational requirements (BFOR)." pg 67.
Challenges with these recommendation:
  • Great for academics, but not for the real-world police departments.
  • The how is missing. There are too many barriers and too much start up cost.
  • Not every department has the experience, expertise, staffing, or resources to choose their trainer.
  • Police departments don't have time, resources, or expertise to create these training scenarios.
Solution training for interactions with mentally ill persons:
  • Create and share scenario-based trainings of actual police encounters with mental illness with different decisions.
  • Make the scenarios available for any police department to copy and deploy immediately with a link
  • When police departments copy it to their account they can deploy it with a link to their officers via text or email link.
  • They get all of the completion data and can attach their own certificates
Benefits of using Mazetec
  • Closes the gap between the recommendation and practical implementation.
  • Enables police departments to take immediate action and deploy the training to their police force so that every officer can take the training asynchronously.
  • Rather than police forces spending months figuring out what to do, in minutes they can just do it.

Leaders need to lead at all levels, not just from the ivory tower. Consider incorporating emerging techniques, such as Mazetec scenarios, into a continuous training approach on de-escalation, use-of-force, and interacting with individuals in crisis.

They call it "practicing" medicine, because practitioners are trying something out. Have your ever received a prescription that didn't work, only to get prescribed another one? That's because they are practicing with trial and error to figure out what works.

Policing should take a similar approach by continuously training officers on micro-scenarios in 3-10 minute increments that can be played asynchronously during down time on the job, where the officer can turn around and apply that training immediately.

Join Mazetec today




Recommendations from the Department of Justice

As most experienced law enforcement executives attest, simply changing a policy does not necessarily guarantee organization-wide compliance, especially if the policy change is not viewed as beneficial to front-line personnel. People are often resistant to change. A strategy for combating this resistance is to bring together the agency’s use of force, firearms, and patrol procedures trainers to evaluate what, if any, de-escalation techniques are taught in their current training programs. Working collaboratively, the instructors can integrate de-escalation techniques into their respective training curricula. Incorporating de-escalation techniques into all applicable training is important because it is during this training that true behavioral change takes place, especially if the trainers are able to demonstrate how de-escalation enhances employee safety.

Challenge
  • Not every department has staff instructors
  • Not practical for most small and mid-sized departments
Solution
  • Provide the specific, policy-focused training scenarios that departments can copy and deploy immediately to their officers.
  • Start the training scenarios with a real world encounter.

Example: De-escalation The person of interest is reaching into their pocket.

A. Pull out your gun B. Ask them what they are reaching for. C. Arrest them.

Link each choice to the next scene in Mazetec.

Shift in policy and changes in policy must be backed by training in order to be effectively implemented.

Recommendation: Engage the community in training and policy development

As with any policy of significant public impact or interest, a best practice is to include community members in the development of training, policy, and the organizational implementation of both. Community inclusion has many benefits. It demonstrates to the community that the chief executive and the agency are committed to community policing and aware of the community’s perception of police use of force. On the topics of use of force and de-escalation, it is critical to engage segments of the community who have not traditionally been accepting of the police function or policing tactics.

Challenge
  • The path to how to do this is left uncharted making it impractical.
  • This is especially challenging for most small and mid-sized departments with limited resources
Solution
  • Create policy oriented scenario-based trainings in Mazetec, include a survey for community feedback.
  • Post the link on your department's social media and website and ask for feedback.
  • Mazetec lets you create surveys to collect feedback on your trainings as well as crowdsource your decisions from the community members.

Developing a Crisis Intervention Program

According to current estimates, 6 to 10 percent of law enforcement contacts involve persons with serious mental health issues.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) has shown significant improvement in knowledge about mental health issues, attitudes towards persons with mental illnesses, and self-efficacy in dealing with mental health crises. Research has also found improvements in officer behavior: CIT-trained officers are less likely to use force, more likely to refer or transport subjects to mental health services, and more likely to report verbal engagement or negotiation than non-CIT-trained officers. Research has demonstrated that officers who volunteer for CIT have more favorable attitudes toward persons with mental illness and are more likely to refer subjects to treatment services.

Challenges

  • Developing a CIT program requires a commitment of time and resources.
  • The Memphis model requires certified personnel to receive a minimum of 40 hours of initial training, as well as ongoing training throughout their careers.
  • At the agency level, establishing the program requires developing and maintaining partnerships, interagency agreements, and new policies and procedures.
  • As many agencies, especially smaller agencies, feel squeezed for resources, finding the time and funding for such a commitment can be a challenge.

Solution

  • Mazetec can serve as a collaboration space for policy oriented scenario-based training so that law enforcement officers and instructors can share scenario based trainings that can be copied and deployed with a link.
  • Collaborate with and get input from community stakeholders.
  • Quickly train an entire department in reaction to high-profile cases without waiting for a full year to train folks.
  • Departments should be able to tailor it and iterate quickly as times change.

Slides are great for people who care, but those that don't see the value skip to the end, so how do you convince the people who will benefit the most? By let them play real-world examples.

Example: Community Oriented Policing - Welfare Check with a 65-year-old Veteran

This training below was created by the QPR Institute and they have made it available for anyone copy and deploy to their officers immediately.

Pivot faster with Mazetec and help from the crowd.
  • This training and all trainings are deployed with a link by email or text.
  • No Registration required for officers or trainees
  • Capture who is completing it (name and email, unique links, or tracking tags)
  • Add your own certificate of completion
  • Play it anywhere, anytime, on any device, but can also with a group.
  • You can copy this training to your account and edit to fit your area's needs.
  • Share back your edits or new training scenarios with other departments
  • Trainings are decision driven, easy to create, quick to deploy
  • Contact us to copy this training to your account.




Join Mazetec today


References Police Interactions with Persons with a Mental Illness: Police Learning in the Environment of Contemporary Policing

U.S. Department of Justice. 2019. Law Enforcement Best Practices: Lessons Learned from the Field. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

Rahr, Sue and Stephen K. Rice. From Warriors to Guardians: Recommitting American Police Culture to Democratic Ideals. New Perspectives in Policing Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2015. NCJ 248654.

President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 2015. Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Rinehart, Tammy A., Laszlo, Anna T., and Briscoe, Gwen O. Collaboration Toolkit:How to Build, Fix, and Sustain Productive Partnerships. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2001.

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