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4 types of products that can enhance your scenario training

The key is to make the scenarios as real as possible, yet safe from unnecessary training injuries


DEA agents participate in a training scenario.

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Police and correctional officers receive various versions of training courses throughout their career. An officer will be trained in the classroom, on the street, on the range and through scenario-based training. All these hours of training are conducted with the purpose of creating the very best, most well-rounded and knowledgeable officer possible. These hours and hours of training are intended to ensure the officer will make appropriate decisions and safely go home at the end of shift.

Scenario training is situational training intended to mimic real-world situations which the officer may face on a daily basis. Trainees and the seasoned officer both need training experiences to draw upon when under stress in real-life situations. Life-saving decisions can be made and repeated under training conditions without a life-threatening consequence for erroneous actions.

For the police setting, scenarios can be simulated to practice officer safety skills on a traffic stop, a search warrant setting, or a domestic violence call. Training can be conducted to include scenarios with role players on many topics including cell extractions and hostage negotiations for the correctional setting. Regardless of the setting, the key is to make the scenarios as real as possible, and yet safe from unnecessary training injuries.

1. Furnishings
One of the latest training aids comes in the form of large replicated items such as jail furnishings or items within a residence or office such as a microwave. These situationally specific items are manufactured to appear just as realistic as the typical items but don’t carry the weight or feel of the real thing. There are also padded furniture props that are used.

Should the scenario involve a correctional officer grappling with an inmate role player, if either were to come crashing to the floor landing against the jail cell metal bunk, the replicated foam bunk won’t leave either officer or role player needing a trip to the hospital for stitches and the agency with an expensive worker’s compensation claim.

Should a police officer be in a simulation of breaking up a bar fight, those furnishings can be a bar, tables, and chairs. If the scenario is a DV call, those props can be the living room furniture.

The replicated items can include computers, desks, shelves, couches and lamps. The items were created with the intention of allowing officers to push the activity within scenarios to the limit without compromising employee safety in the moment, while still enhancing the officer decision-making abilities within a stressful environment.

2. Protective Gear
Most law enforcement officers are familiar with defensive tactic trainings that involve grappling with the guy in the red padded suit. These padded training suits are constructed to withstand repeated high impact blunt trauma without injury to the wearer. Additionally, many manufacturers offer head and throat guards to compliment the body suit.

Some features of defensive tactics protective body suits include construction with material that can be cleaned and disinfected easily. This feature can help prevent the spread of germs and body fungus and is certainly necessary when worn by sweaty cops rolling around on crash mats.

Another safety option is wearing individual knee and elbow pads. There are several offered through different manufacturers. Many are constructed of neoprene with a hook and loop with an adjustable closure. Ergonomic design assists in preventing overuse injuries and providing comfort for full range of motion during physical activity.

3. Small Soft Props
Law enforcement and military can use a variety of props for scenario training, including rubber handguns, long rifles, knives, crow bars, hammers, grenades, and pipe wrenches. Realistic street situated scenarios for police officers can be emulated while using safe, soft props that are now available.

For example, beer bottles, bricks, soda cans and even chunks of concrete can be used by role players portraying a rioting crowd throwing items at the police. In the correctional setting, a scenario can be set up to replicate an inmate holding razor blade shank props during a dayroom fight. The creative situational options are endless.

4. Firearm Props
Vendors have a variety of inert firearm replicas available for law enforcement and military training use. The replicas have been created based upon actual weapon designs by brand name. Many of the inert guns have been constructed with poly urethane and steel which prevents bending while maintaining balance of the replicated weapon. Typically, the simulated firearms are colored red or blue to differentiate them from other duty gear like a yellow TASER. The training firearms can even be purchased with a simulated tactical light attached.

Scenario trainings are most effective when staged as realistically as possible. The props utilized create a more realistic (and necessary) experience; officers sharpen their decision-making abilities under the maximum stress possible while immersed in a physically safe environment where mistakes are not life-threatening and risk of injury is minimized. The benefits garnered from using realistic props during training are immense and ultimately life-saving.

Melissa Mann is recently retired from the field of law enforcement. Her experience spanned 18 years which included assignments in Corrections, Community Policing, Dispatch Communications and Search and Rescue. Melissa holds a BS in Criminal Justice and MA in Psychology with an emphasis on studies on the psychological process of law enforcement officers. She holds a deep passion for researching and writing about the lifestyle of police and corrections work and the far-reaching psychological effects on the officer and their world.