Driving and Use of Force Simulation Training Becomes Reality
by Todd Brown
Chief Trainer for IES
Why does it always seem so long for good ideas to come to fruition? Man had
ideas for powered flight for millennia but it wasn't until a little over a
hundred years ago that this idea was finally realized with the Wright Brothers
historic flight in Kittyhawk, N.C.
For law enforcement, the idea of simulation training has been around for quite
some time. In fact, law enforcement trainers have used simulation technology to
help combat the top two liability concerns for all agencies: driving/auto
accidents and use of force.
Unfortunately, driving and use of force simulation training has developed
independent of each other despite the obvious need for cross training. As we all
know, police officers transition from vehicle patrol to public interaction (and
vice versa) every day they are on duty. Why then, doesn't simulation training
offer this type of advanced cross training?
The idea for fully integrated driving and use of force simulation training
technology is past due. The good news is that this idea is finally starting to
take shape. Several forward-looking instructors and agencies have already begun
turning this idea into reality.
These instructors and agencies are the forefathers of a new technology that will
enable fully integrated driving and use of force scenarios that allow
instructors to put officers into realistic situations they face everyday. They
have realized that police officers go everywhere with their use of force options
on their belts, and that it is their patrol car that gets them there. Sgt.
Michael Edwards, lead trainer of the Orange County (Fla.)
Sheriffs Office said it is the belief of his training staff that, No one walks
to a gunfight.
Although several agencies have created and executed lesson plans involving both
their driving simulators and use of force simulators, one of the first was West
Covina (Calif.) P.D. According to West Covina Police Officer Dennis Maslik, his
department has had their officers drive to a call on the driving simulation
system, exit the vehicle and proceed 4 or 5 steps to their use of force
simulator to participate in a judgmental use of force scenario as early as 1995.
combining the two systems in a single training session the officer has a much
more realistic experience as it relates to patrol duties. These officers are
doing exactly the same things in the training room that they do on duty:
receiving and responding to a call in their patrol car, conducting an
investigation, a field interview, making a simulated arrest or even implementing
a level of force necessary to gain compliance from a subject. One of the most
valuable components of this type of training, according to Sgt. Robert Reid of
the Los Angeles Police Department, is that It takes the officer from the
beginning to the end, rather than compartmentalizing the training.
Many agencies that use both driving and use of force simulation technologies in
tandem require the student to be outside of the driving simulator at the
beginning of a training session. This requires them to enter the vehicle, engage
the safety belt, start the car, look for traffic, navigate to the scene, exit
the vehicle and engage in a scenario. (Some officers have even forgotten to
unbuckle themselves from the driving simulator when trying to exit. This is a
lesson they are unlikely to forget when on duty.) There can be little dispute
over the value of this type of training. Nothing more closely matches what
officers do during a patrol cycle.
However, tandem driving and use of force training is not without its
limitations. These limitations must be considered when evaluating whether or not
to implement this type of training at any agency.
First, logistical problems such as the locations of the simulation systems in
relation to each other must be addressed. For example, West Covina P.D. has a
room divided by a moveable wall, which enables the systems to be used separately
(wall in place), or in conjunction with one another (wall removed).
Additionally, appropriate props should be designed for the training session. If
a trainee performs a traffic stop on the driving simulator on a rural highway,
then transitions to a use of force scenario, a typical U.S. Postal mailbox found
on city curbs would not be the appropriate prop for available cover to the
officer. As interactive simulation systems continue to become smaller and with a
little forethought and planning these and other logistical problems should be
Second, no single manufacturer has yet created a fully integrated driving and
use of force simulation training system that seamlessly transitions from driving
to use of force scenarios (and vice versa). By using disparate systems to
conduct tandem training, trainees would most likely experience inconsistencies
(and possible confusion) between the two training simulators.
For instance, while on the driving simulation system the trainee may arrive at
the location of a business. But, when facing the use of force scenario the
business in the video is not the same as the business on the driving simulator.
Or, the trainee may pull over a yellow sedan on the driving simulator only to
face a blue minivan in the use of force scenario.
Finally, no scenarios have yet been authored such that the use of force and
driving scenarios are part of one, cohesive training objective.
Sgt. Robert Reid stressed the importance of the need for agency-level authoring
capabilities, This would allow agencies to recreate actual events within the
agency, or from around the country, from the time the officer received the call
until the situation was resolved.
Authoring capability on an integrated system would even allow a scenario where
an officer drives to a call, resolves the situation, is dispatched to a new
call, drives to the location, resolves the situation, etc. This type of training
would very closely match actual working conditions for patrol officers.
The solutions for the last two problems are technologically possible both
driving and use of force simulation technologies are advanced enough that a
forward-looking company could integrate these systems and allow for scenario
design that takes into account both driving and use of force issues. With these
integrated driving/use of force training systems, agencies could provide some of
the most realistic, cost effective training ever received by officers.
One company that has taken the first step towards true integration of these two
types of simulation systems is Arotech Corporation (NASDAQ: ARTX). Arotech owns
both FAAC, Inc., (www.faac.com)
of Ann Arbor, Mich., a leading manufacturer of vehicle simulation technology,
and IES Interactive Training, USA (www.ies-usa.com)
of Littleton, Colo., a provider of use of force training products that develop
judgment and decision-making skills for law enforcement, military and government
These two sister companies have combined resources to produce a fully integrated
driving and use of force simulation system that allows agencies the ability to
author cohesive scenarios and provide for seamless transitions from one system
to the other. Greg Otte, president of IES has stated, Police officers often
find themselves in situations where vehicle stops can escalate into something
more than a traffic ticket. IES goal was to create a training system where
officers can practice such scenarios in a safe, controlled environment so that
they know how to correctly react when confronted with the same situation while
on duty. This program has the potential to radically change the way we
currently view simulation training.
Additionally, a fully integrated driving and use of force simulation system
would enable agencies to conduct training to a variety of audiences. For
instance, this type of training could easily be combined with your normal field
training for new officers. This would undoubtedly help the new officer learn
radio codes, procedures for specific calls, vehicle positioning and a host of
Since this new system gives trainers authoring capability, they will have the
resources to easily create scenarios that test their officers in pursuits,
patrol, code responses and normal calls for service. An agency might even choose
to get their dispatchers involved in the training and have them communicate to
the student from the time that the student is behind the wheel until the student
has resolved the situation and is back in service.
While never a replacement for actual field training, emergency vehicle
operations course (EVOC) training, live fire training or other use of force
training, an integrated driving and use of force simulation system would enable
agencies to provide a comprehensive simulated training experience for their
officers. It would also allow trainers to document the agency's training
program, which could be a strong ally in a legal setting.
The idea of a truly integrated driving and use of force simulator is a now
becoming a reality. There is no longer the need to merely imagine the
possibilities. Instead, we can turn these possibilities into integral components
of any law enforcement training program.
About the Author
Todd Brown has more than ten years of experience in training federal, state and
municipal law enforcement agencies on judgmental use of force in simulated
environments as well as in live fire environments. Brown has also trained
agencies in Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and several agencies in Europe. He
holds instructor ratings for various use of force applications such as Baton,
Firearm, Chemical Agents, Taser, etc. Brown is a member of the National Tactical
Officers Association, the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms
Instructors, the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, as well as on the
technical advisory board of the Force Science Research Center. Brown is the
Chief Trainer for IES Interactive Training, manufacturers of the MILO Training &
Presentation System. Brown can be reached at