Training simulator gives OSUPD new tool for stressful scenarios – Oklahoma State University πŸ’₯πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ’₯

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Media Contact:
Shannon Rigsby | Public Information Officer | 405-744-9081 | [email protected]

Every day a law enforcement officer puts on the uniform, there’s a chance they could
be faced with a life-or-death decision. These split-second decisions are difficult
to train for unless officers are subjected to high-stress situations that replicate
the conditions.

The Oklahoma State University Police Department now has a new tool that can do just
that, thanks to the Division of Institutional Diversity, which purchased a training
simulator with privately raised funds.

Dr. Jason F. Kirksey, vice president for Institutional Diversity, took part in the
OSUPD’s Citizens Academy in 2019, a 20-hour course covering
everything from officer training requirements to crime scene evidence preservation.
Participants also spent time on the Stillwater Police Department’s training simulator.

The opportunity to step into an officer’s shoes with the simulator truly opened Kirksey’s
eyes.

β€œParticipating in the OSUPD Citizens Academy offered a level of insight and awareness
about the practice of policing I had never considered,” Kirksey said. β€œThe scenarios
presented during my experiences on the simulator truly had a chilling effect on my
overall perception of law enforcement, particularly the duties and responsibilities
of a police officer. Each time I fired my weapon during a scenario was a blur and
uniquely instinctive based on the few hours we spent training earlier in the day.”

Kirskey said the more scenarios he experienced, the more calm and focused he became.

β€œThis was essentially the motivation behind the decision to purchase the simulator
for OSUPD,” he said. β€œThe benefit of our officers having the opportunity to regularly
use this type of simulator is immeasurable. In a few hours, it helped an ordinary
citizen be better equipped, both physically and mentally, to engage in both calm and
intense law enforcement situations.”

OSUPD Capt. Colt Chandler said the simulator will enhance training capabilities and
increase the frequency of firearms training without the added burden of ammunition
costs. More importantly, it exposes officers to decision making under pressure.

β€œExposure is key to understanding how officers need to navigate situations,” Chandler
said. β€œThe more repetitions we can create and expose officers too, the more likely
they will use sound training tactics during real-life situations. Introducing stress
into the training scenarios gives officers an idea of how their bodies may act in
a real life situation.”

Patrol Sgt. Justin Gorton is one of three firearms trainers for the OSUPD.

β€œThe simulator is for stress inoculation of a police officer,” he said. β€œIts primary
purpose is not to teach shooting fundamentals, but to teach how to continue to function
under pressure. It teaches officers how to stay out of flight or fight mode, how to
keep breathing and thinking while deciding on a course of action instead of just acting
on instinct.”

Gorton said until someone is put into a high-stress situation, they can’t be sure
how their bodies will react. High stress and adrenaline can induce a flight-or-fight
response and many people experience a form of tunnel vision β€” a phase that emcompasses
many behaviors including auditory exclusion.

β€œWhen you’re put in a situation where you think survival is at risk, your brain turns
off things that it doesn’t think are important,” Gorton said. β€œFor example, with auditory
exclusion, your brain doesn’t care about auditory input anymore. You won’t be able
to hear anything, and your brains will focus on the eyes. Some new officers may freeze.
The simulator gets the stress triggers up and gives officers their voice in a safe,
controlled environment.”

The model purchased by the OSUPD has some customization available. The training instructor
can change the outcome of the scenario based on the officer’s initial responses to
the issue presented. Is the officer being forceful with appropriate commands? The
instructor can make the scenario respond to that.

The OSUPD hopes to customize the scenarios to use campus buildings and settings.

β€œWe eventually want to work with departments on campus to produce training videos
specific to buildings on campus to boost officers’ confidence in the event they need
to respond to a high-stress situation,” Gorton said.

β€œUnquestionably, the single greatest commitment the university makes to diversity
and inclusion is the OSUPD,” Kirksey said. β€œPurchasing this simulator was one way
the Division of Institutional Diversity was able to help broaden and deepen OSU’s
commitment.”

OSUPD Chief Leon Jones is grateful the Division of Institutional Diversity invested
in the officers and community with the purchase.

β€œThe value of this training tool is beyond measure,” he said. β€œIt will better prepare
our officers and can be used as an educational resource for giving our community members
a glimpse into the types of split-second decision-making our officers are asked to
be prepared for every day.”

Training simulator gives OSUPD new tool for stressful scenarios – Oklahoma State University

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