IMMERSED IN TRAINING Lisanne Kleygrewe ADVANCING POLICE PRACTICE WITH VIRTUAL REALITY
IMMERSED IN TRAINING: ADVANCING POLICE PRACTICE WITH VIRTUAL REALITY Lisanne Kleygrewe
The research in this thesis was embedded in Amsterdam Movement Sciences Research Institute, at the department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Financial support for the work presented in this thesis was generously provided by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 833672. The content reflects only the author’s view. Research Executive Agency and European Commission are not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5463/thesis.312 ISBN: 978-94-6483-347-8 Cover design: Arina van Londen Lay-out: Publiss | www.publiss.nl Print: Ridderprint | www.ridderprint.nl © Copyright 2023: Lisanne Kleygrewe, The Netherlands All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, by photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. Printing of this thesis was funded by VR provider RE-liON, Enschede, the Netherlands.
VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT Immersed in Training: Advancing Police Practice with Virtual Reality ACADEMISCH PROEFSCHRIFT ter verkrijging van de graad Doctor of Philosophy aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, op gezag van de rector magnificus prof.dr. J.J.G. Geurts, in het openbaar te verdedigen ten overstaan van de promotiecommissie van de Faculteit der Gedrags- en Bewegingswetenschappen op vrijdag 29 september 2023 om 11.45 uur in een bijeenkomst van de universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105 door Lisanne Kleygrewe geboren te Gütersloh, Duitsland
promotor: dr. R.R.D. Oudejans copromotor: dr. R.I. Hutter promotiecommissie: dr. D.L. Mann prof.dr. A. Smit prof.dr. M. Staller prof.dr. T. Hartmann dr. L. Voigt
TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1 General Introduction 7 Chapter 2 Police Training in Practice: Organization and Delivery According to European Law Enforcement Agencies 21 Chapter 3 Virtual Reality Training for Police Officers: A Comparison of Training Responses in VR and Real-life Training 47 Chapter 4 No Pain, No Gain? The Effect of Adding a Pain Stimulus in Virtual Training For Police Officers 71 Chapter 5 Changing Perspectives: Enhancing Learning Efficacy with the After-Action Review in Virtual Reality Training for Police 93 Chapter 6 Epilogue 109 References 123 Summary 135 About the author 141 Acknowledgements / Danksagung 145
01 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Chapter 1 8 INTRODUCTION Training is an essential part of the career of a police officer. Starting in the police academy, cadets are taught the basic skills and knowledge they require for their policing career. Once graduated from the police academy, police officers continue to receive training to ensure safe conduct and adequate skills for the job (Kleygrewe et al., 2022; Koedijk, 2022; Koedijk et al., 2020). More so than other occupations, police officers encounter situations that are characterized by ambiguity, complexity, and stress (Waddington et al., 2012). To cope with these situations, police officers have to possess a broad range of skills. Next to physical skills such as running, weapon handling, shooting and self-defense, police officers need to possess psychological skills such as information processing, problem-solving, de-escalation, and decision-making (Birzer & Tannehill, 2001; Blumberg et al., 2019). To train physical and psychological skills in an integrated fashion simultaneously, police agencies utilize scenario-based training as a method that replicates on-duty incidents (Di Nota & Huhta, 2019; Andersen et al., 2016). Police instructors design realistic environments using appropriate equipment, props, role-players, and sounds that create a simulation of an on-duty situation. Scenario-based training allows police officers to practice their skills while also experiencing the influence of stress on their performance (Di Nota & Huhta, 2019). With a rise in the availability of training technologies, police agencies have now begun to utilize Virtual Reality (VR) as a means to conduct scenario-based training (Saunders et al., 2019). VR entails a binocular head-mounted display which presents the user with a simulated virtual scene (Scarfe & Glennerster, 2019). In addition to the head-mounted display, many VR systems provide full-body motion tracking to permit realistic full-body movements in the virtual environment (e.g., RE-liON VR blacksuit, REFENSE VR system). Enabling free, full-body motion, VR offers a training tool which allows police agencies to design and train a wide range of simulated scenarios that officers may encounter in the field. Compared to real-life scenariobased training, VR offers the flexibility of creating and designing training environments and scenarios independent of a physical training location, props, and protective training equipment. In virtual scenarios, police officers can safely train high-risk situations (e.g., fire, explosions, mass disturbances; see Murtinger et al., 2021) without having to handle live weapons or other equipment that could increase the risk of accidents or injury. Compared to real-life scenarios, VR allows for the inclusion of vulnerable populations in training (e.g., the elderly, children, people with disabilities; Kent & Hughes, 2022). Taken together, the integration and adjustment of various elements in VR — such as lighting and weather conditions, and responses of nonplayer characters — create dynamic training situations and virtually endless opportunities for scenario creation.
General Introduction 9 1 With the benefits that VR offers to create immersive, safe, and adaptable training environments, VR offers opportunities to adjust the (instructional) training design. The training scenarios can be designed specifically in accordance with the objectives of the training, the need of the trainees, and the available training time (Zechner et al., 2023). Entirely different or the same scenarios can be repeated, increasing amount of repetitions within a training and active time in scenarios (Giessing, 2021). The complexity of the scenarios can be adjusted prior to and during the training with in-action monitoring and on-the-fly steering of the scenario (Nguyen et al., 2021). Once the training or single scenario is finished, VR systems offer the opportunity of an after-action review — a training performance review enhanced by VR (Raemer et al., 2011; Giessing, 2021). As the VR system recorded the scenario(s), the training scenario(s) can be reviewed from a variety of perspectives (e.g., bird’s eye view, police officer view, or suspect view) and enhanced by relevant performance indictors (e.g., shots fired, and targets hit). Thus, VR technology can support the training of police officer from the beginning of a session (e.g., scenario design), through the training execution (e.g., on-the-fly scenario adjustments), to the end of a session (e.g., VR enhanced performance feedback). In the context of police practice, VR is used across many areas in training: VR is currently being used for use-of-force training (Garcia, 2019; McAllister et al., 2022), tactical training (e.g., disaster preparedness and response, Murtinger et al., 2021; Mossel et al., 2015), de-escalation training (Kent, 2022; Kleygrewe, Hutter, & Oudejans, 2023), cultural sensitivity training (Kishore et al., 2022; Doan et al., 2021), medical emergency training (Schrom-Feiertag et al., 2022), mental health awareness training (i.e., recognizing and responding to individuals with mental health conditions, Kent & Hughes, 2022), and personal professional development training (e.g., stress regulation, Brammer et al., 2021; Michela et al., 2022). The application of VR training in police has been shown to be particularly effective in improving cognitive-perceptual skills (Harris et al., 2021) and retaining and applying police-specific knowledge (Saunders et al., 2019). Specifically, research has demonstrated that the learning transfer from VR to a complex real-life situation is similar to the learning transfer from scenario-based training to the same complex, real-life situation (Bertram et al., 2015). These findings indicate that VR training is an effective training tool to prepare police officers for on-duty incidents. Research and practice have established that VR provides an immersive, flexible, and safe training tool that appears to provide benefits to current real-life training practices (Nguyen et al., 2021; Murtinger et al., 2021; Saunders et al., 2019; Zechner et al., 2023; Kleygrewe, Hutter, Koedijk, et al., 2023). The flexibility and safety of VR as a training tool makes it particularly suitable for training specific objectives such as the preparation of police officers for complex situations in stressful and high-risk settings. Due to these benefits, more and more police agencies invest
Chapter 1 10 in VR as a training tool. However, there are currently no common training standards or other points of reference for successful and effective implementation and application of VR training for police. The implementation of VR training refers to the improvement of current training practices through the integration of VR into existing training frameworks. The application of VR training refers to the delivery and use of VR as a training tool to enhance training and learning of police officers. For VR training to be useful for police practice, evidence-based standards guiding the implementation and application should be developed. The implementation and application of a training technology such as VR relies on identifying the necessity for such a technology and whether the technology contributes to the effectiveness (and possibly the efficiency) of training. Therefore, this thesis sets out to answer two questions: • How can VR training improve and supplement current police training practices? • How can VR training be applied to enhance the training and learning experience of police officers? This thesis focuses specifically on the use of VR for the simulation of stressful and high-risk settings. Within these settings, this thesis explores the training of perceptual-motor skills of police officers such as decision-making and acting. VR provides a training tool that combines a broad range of environments with the opportunity for police officers to safely and repeatedly perform a variety of skills which is seldomly possible in real-life training. By investigating the implementation (i.e., the improvement of current training practices with the supplement of VR) and the application (i.e., the use of VR to enhance training and learning) of VR training in police, this thesis aims to provide evidence-based guidance on how VR can advance current training practices that prepare police officers for stressful and high-risk on-duty incidents. Implementation of VR The implementation of VR in police training depends on the organizational context, the available resources (e.g., training time, personnel, training budget) and the benefit of VR over current training practices. Implementation, then, refers to the integration of VR as a training technology into existing training curricula and structures of the police agency. As police training (particularly the content, frequency, and duration of training) differ between police agencies (Marenin, 2004), the way in which VR can be integrated may also differ. Hence, an overview of current training practices may provide insights into training areas in which police agencies share common obstacles that developments in VR may be able to resolve.
General Introduction 11 1 In current real-life training, scenario-based training is considered the gold standard for integrated (motor) skill learning (Di Nota & Huhta, 2019). During scenario-based training, police officers reenact and apply skills (such as handcuffing) in on-duty like situations. The exposure to dynamic and immersive duty-like situations allows trainees to explore behavioral strategies under the influence of stress (Di Nota & Huhta, 2019). Hence, main advantages of real-life scenario-based training is the dynamic interaction with the opposition (a suspect, bystander, etc.) and the use of skills and replica tools (e.g., pepper spray) as police officers would do during real-life incidents. In order for VR to benefit current training practices, VR needs to provide advantages in training experience, learning outcomes, or resource savings (e.g., enhanced training efficiency, etc.). Compared to current real-life training, many of the advantages of VR training outweigh the drawbacks of real-life training. For instance, while real-life scenario-based training is bound to a physical location and requires a labor-intensive set-up of props, VR training provides a virtual environment that simulates a variety of scenarios independent of location. Similarly, during reallife scenario-based training, scenarios are seldomly repeatable because the restaging of scenarios is oftentimes time-consuming. Therefore, VR might be able to provide advantages that further enhance already existing training practices. Currently, no comparison of training experiences (such as the physical or psychological responses to the training itself) of VR and real-life training exists in the literature. Additionally, literature does not yet address how features of VR can be used as a tool to enhance learning in police training. In order to make informed decisions on where and how to integrate VR into current practice, evidence regarding the effectiveness of the methods for particular training objectives and its ability to enhance learning would prove valuable. Application of VR The application of VR in police training depends on the training objective and the capabilities of VR to support the objective. Application of VR, then, refers to the delivery and use of the training technology in practice. As VR is already being used to effectively fulfill various objectives in police training (see section ‘Defining VR in the context of police’), research should investigate how the application of VR can be improved further; for instance, by examining how the drawbacks of VR can be mitigated and how the advantages of VR can be utilized to maximize the effectiveness of VR as a training tool. Current drawbacks in VR police training relate predominantly to the limited multi-sensory fidelity (Giessing, 2021). In real-life situations and training, police officers rely on vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. In VR, vision and hearing are the predominant senses trainees use to engage with the virtual environment. The reduced experience of senses in VR limits the exploration of an environment through the sense of smell and taste and limits the physical interaction with,
Chapter 1 12 and physical feedback of, virtual objects (Uhl et al., 2022). Particularly in threatening situations, the multi-sensory experiences of police officers are relevant for performance in stressful contexts. For instance, in training situations where an opponent is able to physically threaten the police officer (e.g., shooting at the officers with colored-soap cartridges), police officers experience representative responses akin to on-duty experiences (e.g., higher levels of anxiety, higher heart rates, faster reaction times). Training situations in which no physical threat and therefore no physical feedback in response to the officers’ actions was present, the officers’ responses were not representative of on-duty experiences (Nieuwenhuys & Oudejans, 2010). Thus, in order for VR police training to be more representative, research and technology may explore how to advance the multisensory fidelity of current VR systems (Brunswik, 1956; Davids et al., 2013; Uhl et al., 2022). VR training has the clear advantage that it provides objective feedback of the training performance. Effective feedback has been shown to improve learning (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). With the after-action review tool, police instructors have the opportunity to provide objective and specific feedback tailored to the trainee. While research in reality-based (psychomotor task) training settings has explored how type and modality of feedback influence learning (Zhu et al., 2020), guidance on how to use simulation-based feedback tools has not yet been explored. Thus, the application of VR training may benefit from guidelines on how to use VR tools such as the AAR to increase the training and learning experiences of police officers. Taken together, mitigating the drawbacks of VR (e.g., multi-sensory fidelity) and maximizing the advantages (e.g., application of AAR) may provide technological advances and instructional guidance on the use of VR in police practice. Defining Virtual Reality In the context of this thesis, VR refers to systems that provides an immersive three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment in which users can move about freely. Within this thesis, two different VR training systems from different VR providers were utilized — a portable, partly radio, partly body-worn motion tracking system using sensor fusion provided by RE-liON (www.re-lion.com; see Figure 1.1) and a full-body (outside-in) optical tracking system provided by REFENSE (www. refense.com).
General Introduction 13 1 Figure 1.1. Example of a full-body VR system using a smartvest (RE-liON). The two systems used for the VR studies in this thesis share common features which align with this thesis’ definition of VR: • The VR system consists of a head-mounted display which infers three-dimensional properties of a simulated environment through a projection of a two-dimensional perspective of a virtual scene onto each eye (Scarfe & Glennerster, 2019); • The VR system enables free, full-body movements in the simulated environment through sensors on the feet and hands (e.g., REFENSE system) or smartvests with sensors on the entire body (e.g., RE-liON system, see Figure 1.1); • The VR system enables police officers to move in a physical space (in this thesis, a space of up to 30 x 30 meters onto which the virtual training environment is plotted); • The VR system provides replica service weapons that can be functionally utilized in the virtual environment;
Chapter 1 14 • The VR system enables simultaneous, multi-person use (see Figure 1.2); • The VR system allows for the use of role-players during virtual scenarios — actors, instructors, or trainees who play the role of a suspect, perpetrator, or bystander; • The VR environment enables the use and steering of multiple non-player characters (NPCs) that represent suspects, perpetrators, and/or bystanders in the virtual environment. Figure 1.2 VR police training system (from RE-liON)1 1 This picture was taken during the COVID-19 pandemic in which trainees were required to wear facemasks. The facemasks are not part of the regular VR training equipment.
General Introduction 15 1 EPISTEMOLOGY OF THE AUTHOR AND THIS THESIS My personal epistemology is based on the belief that complex practical problems are most effectively investigated in the natural settings in which they occur. Investigating practical problems in their applied settings provides an enhanced understanding of complex issues by embracing confounding and latent variables inherent to applied work, as well as by collaborating with practitioners who are experts in the field. Collaboration, particularly of interdisciplinary nature, provides a broader view on the practical problem and a better understanding of possible solutions. To approach practical problems and provide practically relevant insights, the research design and resulting conclusions should be evidence-based (i.e., founded on the best available evidence for used methods and interpretation) and context-dependent (i.e., taking into account the specific context in which the research is being applied). This applied research approach, however, should not negate the importance of theoretical foundation in investigating and examining practical settings. Particularly in the context of VR for police, a strong connection between theory and practice permits the development and improvement of a training technology in the practical setting in which the technology has to function. For instance, by utilizing educational learning theories to guide the training design of a VR session, the outcome of the training may further inform how the training design and training technology can be improved. Translating my personal epistemology into the framework of this thesis, I aim to highlight the importance of an interdisciplinary, evidence-based, and context-dependent empirical approach to applied research. Doing so, I tested the two previously introduced VR systems (see section “Defining Virtual Reality”) as part of official training days at the police agencies, collaborating with VR technology partners and police end-users. Moreover, I aim to emphasize the interplay between theoretical foundations and practical application, particularly, in the investigation and application of educational training technologies such as VR. Thus, to improve the technology itself and examine the effectiveness for the delivery of the training technology, I claim that theory and practice should go hand in hand and inform one another. While this thesis did not set out to validate a theoretical model, the basis of each chapter is supported by a theoretical foundation related to learning and instructional design, primarily focusing on the integrated model of perceptual-motor performance and anxiety (Nieuwenhuys & Oudejans, 2012, 2017), representative learning design (Davids et al., 2013), and cognitive load theory (Van Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005; Mugford et al., 2013). These models and theories set the groundwork on which the design and interpretation of the applied research conducted within the context of this thesis is based and are therefore elaborated on below.
Chapter 1 16 Integrated Model of Perceptual-Motor Performance and Anxiety The integrated model of perceptual-motor performance and anxiety (Nieuwenhuys & Oudejans, 2012, 2017) describes the influence of anxiety on perceptual-motor performance. The model suggests that personal and environmental characteristics influence the experience of anxiety in pressure situations. Experiencing high levels of anxiety may lead to stimulus-driven control (e.g., attending to threat-related rather than task-relevant information). The experience of anxiety can be mitigated by the investment of extra mental effort which in turn may lead to goal-directed control (e.g., attending to task-relevant rather than threat-related information). The outcome of the balance between stimulus-driven or goal-directed control influences how a person perceives, selects, and acts under pressure. The investment of additional mental effort, if invested appropriately, may correct the balance. Police officers perform in stressful contexts that lead to an increase in anxiety. Studies in reallife training have shown that training with anxiety improves performance in high pressure situations (Nieuwenhuys et al., 2009; Nieuwenhuys et al., 2012; Nieuwenhuys & Oudejans, 2010, 2011). For VR training to be beneficial, the virtual environment and training scenarios should be able to elicit stress responses in trainees. Therefore, the VR experiments in this thesis (particularly, Chapters 3 and 4) assess the physiological responses (e.g., heart rate), stress mitigation strategies (e.g., investment of mental effort), and subjective levels of perceived stress of police officers. Representative Learning Design Representative learning design provides an instructional framework for designing effective learning environments (Pinder et al., 2011). The framework describes the importance of dynamical interactions between the learner and their environment (i.e., ecological dynamics, Davids et al., 2013). Individuals experience a variety of (task) constraints in their performance environment that provide new information to update and inform their subsequent actions. The constant interplay between perception (e.g., detecting visual and auditory information in the environment) and action (e.g., moving towards an intended goal) provides adaptive and functional solutions to effectively engage with the environment. When designing training environments, the constraints that learners experience in their performance environment should be included in the training environment to allow learners to explore adaptive and functional solutions relevant to the performance context in training. To implement a representative learning design in VR, we first ensured that we utilize VR systems that provide functional, full-body movements (e.g., the possibility to walk normally in VR; use
General Introduction 17 1 of on-duty weapons in VR) and aimed to create training scenarios that realistically capture the experiences and constraints that trainees may encounter on duty (Chapters 3-5). To this end, we sampled training scenarios from the specific performance environment (Pinder et al., 2011). Because VR provides a virtual simulation of an environment, in a next step, we ensured to specifically assess sense of presence (i.e., the feeling of truly being there in the virtual environment; Slater & Wilbur, 1997) and the experience of ecological validity of the virtual environment (Lessiter et al., 2001; not to confuse with ecological validity as defined by Brunswik, see Araujo et al., 2007). We did so to ensure that trainees experienced that the virtual training environment provided equally representative opportunities for perception and action as their performance environment (e.g., realistic context, realistic problems, and realistic solutions; Hutter et al., in press). Cognitive Load Theory Cognitive load theory (CLT; Van Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005; Sweller, 2011) describes how the working memory impacts learning. The theory states that human working memory has a limited capacity and that cognitive load (i.e., the amount of mental effort required to process information) affects learning. According to CLT, a training session should be designed in such a way that it manages intrinsic load effectively (e.g., by differentiating to the level of trainees), reduces extraneous load (e.g., by omitting all unnecessary complexities from task design and instruction), and maximizes germane load (e.g., by providing task design and instructions that refer directly to learning). VR police training is oftentimes a new experience for police officers and therefore may require a different instructional design than the scenario-based training they are used to. To explore the cognitive load that trainees experience in VR, we measure mental effort (via a visual analogue scale) in VR (Chapters 3 and 4) and explore which specific factors lead to the investment of mental effort in VR training (Chapter 2). STUDY AIMS AND STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS The studies in this thesis aim to investigate a range of benefits and challenges of VR as a training tool for police training. The chapters of this thesis are structured in the following way: In Chapter 2, we present an overview of the organization and delivery of training across European law enforcement agencies. The qualitative study provides insights into the strengths and challenges of current European police training practices.
Chapter 1 18 In Chapter 3, we examine physical and psychological training responses of experienced police officers to VR training and scenario-based real-life training. We provide factors, such as participant characteristics and VR experiences (e.g., the experience of negative effects), that influence the psychological training responses to VR training. In Chapter 4, we evaluate the effectiveness of adding a pain stimulus to VR training and a 2D training simulator to increase their representativeness. We explore the influence of the pain stimulus on physical and psychological training responses, as well as sense of presence in VR (i.e., the feeling of truly “being there” in the virtual environment). In Chapter 5, we assess the use of VR’s after-action review features to enhance the learning efficacy of police officers. We explore whether reviewing the training performance from various perspectives (e.g., bird’s eye view, police officer view, suspect view) and with addition of VR features (e.g., showing the line of fire of the service weapon) enhance the learning efficacy of police officers. Collectively, the chapters aim to provide insights into the implementation and application of VR training into police practice. In line with the cover of this thesis, the chapters are structured in such a way that they show the journey from real-life practices to training with VR technology — first highlighting the strengths and challenges of current (real-life) training practices, then comparing real-life training and VR training, until finally demonstrating how VR training can be utilized to enhance representativeness and learning for police. This thesis addresses police training on a European scale. The studies have been conducted with seven European law enforcement agencies, with particularly close collaborations with the Dutch National Police and the Stadtpolizei Zürich (City Police Zurich, Switzerland). The epilogue summarizes the findings and implications of each chapter. It describes how VR training can be implemented to improve and supplement current training practices and provides an overview for the practical application of VR training in police practice. Lastly, the epilogue describes how theory and practice connect to advance the developments of VR as a training technology for police.
General Introduction 19 1 Figure 1.3. Overview of Thesis Chapters
02 POLICE TRAINING IN PRACTICE: ORGANIZATION AND DELIVERY ACCORDING TO EUROPEAN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES Kleygrewe, L., Oudejans, R. R. D., Koedijk, M., & Hutter, R. I. (2022). Police Training in Practice: Organization and Delivery According to European Law Enforcement Agencies Frontiers in Psychology
Chapter 2 22 ABSTRACT Police training plays a crucial role in the development of police officers. Because the training of police officers combines various educational components and is governed by organizational guidelines, police training is a complex, multifaceted topic. The current study investigates training at six European law enforcement agencies and aims to identify strengths and challenges of current training organization and practice. We interviewed a total of 16 police instructors and seven police coordinators with conceptual training tasks. A thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Terry et al., 2017) was conducted and results organized in the two main themes evident across all six law enforcement agencies: organization of training and delivery of training. Results show that governmental structures and police executive boards are seen as the primary authorities that define the training framework in which police instructors operate. These administrative structures regulate distant and immediate resources, such as available training time, training facilities, equipment, and personnel. Within the confines of available resources and predetermined training frameworks, results indicate that police instructors thoroughly enjoy teaching, creating supportive and motivating learning environments, and applying their personal learning perspectives to training. Nonetheless, police instructors are critical of the level of training they are able to achieve with the available resources. Keywords: police training, didactics, curriculum evaluation, police instructors, assessment
Police Training in Practice: Organization and Delivery According to European Law Enforcement Agencies 2 23 INTRODUCTION Police training plays a crucial role in the development of police officers. Compared to other occupations, police officers spend the entire beginning of their policing career training and preparing for the job (Wilson et al., 2010). Police cadets may spend up to three years in basic training before they are considered police officers and encounter any job-specific situations independently. This comparatively long period of initial training makes sense when considering that police officers respond to diverse and complex on-duty demands on a daily basis (Anderson et al., 2002; Gershon et al., 2009; Paton, 2009). Police officers are tasked with enforcing laws, protecting civilian life and property, responding to (emergency) calls, and apprehending and arresting criminals, to name only a few. Consequently, it is likely for police officers to encounter complex, high-risk situations (Marenin, 2004; Waddington et al., 2012). Dealing with these highrisk situations adequately requires expansive knowledge and skills, which police officers ought to acquire in training. Police academies and law enforcement agencies are responsible for equipping officers with the relevant skills to successfully resolve any on-duty demands placed upon them (Chappell, 2008). The common objective of police training has hardly changed over time – to help police officers perform their job (Ness, 1991; Koedijk et al., 2019). However, what police training consists of has changed significantly over the years. Traditional policing required police officers to possess self-defense, arresting, shooting, and driving skills, which was reflected in training that focused primarily on teaching these physical activities (Chappell, 2008). Current policing places a focus on additional skills such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making (Birzer & Tannehill, 2001; Blumberg et al., 2019). To facilitate these skills in the context of policing, police academies and law enforcement agencies needed to adjust the structure, content, and delivery of their formal training (Marenin, 2004). Traditionally, police instructors taught their students knowledge and skills using a uniform, linear training approach (Birzer & Tannehill, 2001; McCoy, 2006). For instance, teaching cadets self-defense skills would require instructors to explain the exact techniques and to illustrate a fixed set of movements for cadets to observe and apply in a static, low-pressure setting. Considering that police officers encounter complex and dynamic incidents, where decision-making, situational awareness, and communication skills might be decisive for the outcome, the traditional, uniform approach to training seems to have little to do with the realities of police work (Renden, Nieuwenhuys, et al., 2015). Recent literature in the field of police training investigated how to better facilitate skills and improve specific components of police training. For instance, Di Nota and Huhta (2019) have illustrated how realistic and immersive scenario-based training can improve police officers’
Chapter 2 24 skills such as situational awareness and decision-making. Similarly, integrating elements of anxiety and stress into training — akin to what police officers would experience in high-risk onduty situations — has shown to improve use of force performance under stressful conditions and paved the path for police training to become more realistic (Oudejans, 2008; Nieuwenhuys & Oudejans, 2011; Andersen et al., 2016). Furthermore, police instructors are called to create learner-centered training environments that foster the “exploration and learning of functional solutions” to reduce the gap between police training and police work on duty (Koerner & Staller, 2021, p. 10; White & Escobar, 2008). This means moving away from traditional classroom-based, trainer-centered teaching to enhance performance, skill transfer, and retention. While research has contributed immensely to the quality of police training, current literature is yet to provide a comprehensive overview of police training across law enforcement agencies. Two reasons, in particular, might explain the lack of a cross-cultural overview of police training. First, almost every law enforcement agency organizes the frequency, duration, and content of their training differently (Marenin, 2004). This is due to many factors. The availability of resources and budget for training may determine how much and how often training can be conducted (White & Escobar, 2008), while the content of training will vary as it is tailored to particular needs of the region of operation. For instance, urban and rural environments pose different sets of challenges to police work which should be reflected in the training of police officers (Crank, 1990; Huey & Ricciardelli, 2015). Second, societal or situational influences (e.g., occurence of a terror attack, see Henry, 2002), changing policies (e.g., implementation of COVID-19 measures, see Laufs & Waseem, 2020; Frenkel et al., 2021), and technological advances (e.g., the integration of the body cam, see Koen et al., 2018; development of VR training, see Giessing, 2021) may call for specific adjustments in structure and content of police training. The concurrence of organizational, situational, and technological influences is what makes training practices unique to each law enforcement agency. As a consequence, the landscape of police training across law enforcement agencies is extremely diverse. Although the diversity of training practices across European law enforcement agencies may explain why thus far no cross-cultural overviews of police training are collated, this does not mean that such an overview would be of no use. An overview featuring the commonalities and differences of European training practices highlights the diverse contexts in which law enforcement agencies educate and train police officers. This will, due to the variety in training practices, encompass a broad range of solutions law enforcement agencies have found for a broad range of issues with training. This may allow law enforcement agencies to learn from good practices in the training of other agencies and may help them to identify their own strengths and challenges in training more clearly. At the very least, law enforcement agencies may learn
Police Training in Practice: Organization and Delivery According to European Law Enforcement Agencies 2 25 that they are not alone in particular aspects of training they struggle with and can be invited to join forces with other agencies to try and find improvements or solutions. These functions of a cross-organizational overview of training practices will be particularly salient if gained from the perspective of the actual law enforcement agencies and their personnel who conceptualize and deliver the training. In addition, the law enforcement agencies’ perspectives will benefit researchers on police training as it allows them to focus on current and practically relevant training areas that may necessitate further (scientific) attention. Evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence go hand in hand (or at least they should). As such, an overview of the intricacies of police training as experienced by law enforcement personnel such as training instructors is important and informative for police practitioners and researchers alike. Manning (2009) eloquently argued that “police practices are well understood within the police world, and the reporting, designed for external audiences, is a shadowy figure” (p. 462). To shed light on the world of police training, we aim to gain insights into the commonalities and differences of European training practices and identify their strengths and challenges according to those who conceptualize, organize, and provide the training. Gaining insight into the strengths and challenges of police training as experienced by European law enforcement agencies will provide police practitioners and researchers an opportunity for optimizing the current state of police training. MATERIALS AND METHODS Research Design We utilized a qualitative research design to investigate the current state of police training at six European law enforcement agencies. We conducted individual interviews with police coordinators and instructors with the aim to identify strengths and challenges in police training. Prior to conducting the interviews, we requested and received training-related material such as training and assessment manuals, lesson plans, training protocols, and training policies. We have studied these in detail to familiarize ourselves with the content and context in which police training takes place at each of the six law enforcement agencies. Reviewing the training-related material provided input for the interview guides and provided the interviewer with information on the language use and job-specific terminology expected from participants. Participants In total, 21 semi-structured interviews were conducted on training sites at six European law enforcement agencies. The agencies were located in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden,
Chapter 2 26 Romania, and Belgium. We interviewed a total of 23 participants (two female). 16 participants were police instructors with an average age of 39.75 years (SD = 6.59) and an average police work experience of 15.56 years (SD = 8.34). Seven were training coordinators (department heads, unit leaders, or instructors with conceptual tasks or other coordinative roles in police training) with an average age of 47.43 years (SD = 5.29) and an average police work experience of 26.86 years (SD = 7.32). The participants had knowledge of, and expertise in, the training of police cadets, the continued professional development of police officers, special forces officers, and police instructors. The profile of the participants of each law enforcement agency is further described in Table 2.1. To comply with confidentiality agreements with the law enforcement agencies, the participants and their respective organizations are anonymized. Ethical approval was obtained from the Social and Societal Ethics Committee of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven as part of the SHOTPROS project (work package 9: ethics) which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant number: 833672). Table 2.1. Profiles of the participants per law enforcement agency. Organization Participants LEA 1 Instructor with conceptual training tasks (TC1). Instructors of continued professional development topics (I1, I2). LEA 2 Instructor of shooting, close combat, and tactical training, with conceptual training tasks (TC2). Instructor of firearms instruction (I3). Instructor of tactical procedures of extreme violence and firearms instruction (I4). Instructor of firearms and equipment and fitness training (I5). LEA 3 Weapon unit leader with coordinative training tasks (TC3). Instructor of firearms and equipment (I6). LEA 4 Instructor coordinator with conceptual training tasks (TC4). Instructor and patrol officer (I7). Instructor of security detail personnel with organizational tasks (I8). Instructor of tactics, firearms instruction, first aid, and communication and border patrol officer (I9). Instructor of self-defense and tactical procedures and patrol officer (I10). LEA 5 Head of instructor qualification unit for operational training (TC5). Instructor with conceptual tasks (TC6). Instructors of qualification and development of police instructors (I11, I12, I13, and I14). LEA 6 Instructor with coordinative training tasks (TC7). Instructor of firearms and self-defense and military instructor (I15). Instructor of communications and military instructor (I16). Note: “TC” refers to training coordinators; “I” refers to instructors. Coordinative training tasks refer to tasks in which training aspects are coordinated (e.g., scheduling, availability of instructors, personnel, location, etc.). Conceptual training tasks refer to tasks in which trainings are conceptualized (e.g., development of a training module, training plan, or training lesson, etc.).
Police Training in Practice: Organization and Delivery According to European Law Enforcement Agencies 2 27 Interview Guides Based on the initial review of the training documents from law enforcement agencies, we developed two separate interview guides: one for interviews with police training coordinators with conceptual training tasks and one for interviews with police instructors. The interview guide for training coordinators consisted of discussion topics regarding the frequency, duration, and components of training, assessment and evaluation of officers, training for stressful situations and decision-making, an evaluation of the current training curriculum, and effective and innovative training practices. The interview guide for police instructors consisted of opinion inquiries regarding the overall experience as an instructor, their favorite parts of training, training methods they commonly implement in their training, and their views on what constitutes effective training. The interview guides can be requested from the first author. Procedure To capture diverse perspectives of European police training, the first author visited the locations of six European law enforcement agencies in five different countries. To recruit participants for the interviews, we utilized purposive sampling where contact persons at each law enforcement agency referred us to key informants who further helped us recruit potential participants for the current study (Smith et al., 2009). All interviews were conducted by the first author, whose native language is German and who is fully proficient in English. To participate in the study, participants had to be (a) proficient in English or German, (b) provide operational police training as an instructor, or have a role in the conceptualization and organization of operational police training. Prior to visiting the location of the law enforcement agencies, our contact person ensured that at least one participant was in a position to be interviewed as training coordinator. Additional interviews with instructors were conducted based on the availability of instructors on location. We conducted all interviews face-to-face at the locations of the law enforcement agencies. Prior to conducting the interviews, we informed participants about the content and purpose of the study and asked for permission to audio-record the interview. All participants signed informed consent agreements prior to being interviewed. Due to time constraints of participants at one law enforcement agency, one of the interviews was conducted in a focus group setting with three participants (one training coordinator, two instructors) at the same time. For this interview, the interview guide for training coordinators was used. Analysis We conducted an inductive thematic analysis following the steps described by Braun and Clarke (2006): familiarizing with the data, generating codes, constructing themes, reviewing potential
Chapter 2 28 themes, defining and naming themes, and producing the report. After transcription, translation of German interviews into English, and familiarization with the data, the transcripts were imported to ATLAS.ti 9 for analysis. The analysis started with open coding; we generated initial codes across the entire dataset. Initial descriptive codes were developed for any data segments that were meaningful to the researchers. In subsequent rounds of coding, we used our research questions to further specify the code labels. That is, we focused on data segments and code labels that referred to commonalities and differences of European training practices as well as signified strengths and challenges in these practices. Using thematic maps, provisional themes were explored in an iterative process to investigate the themes’ relationship between each other and to the research questions. Provisional themes that captured the dataset meaningfully and informed answers to the research questions were further employed as final themes. Next, we clearly named and defined the conceptualized themes and sub themes. To ensure that the final sub themes and their labels captured relevant aspects of the main themes, we wrote theme definitions summarizing the central idea (Terry et al., 2017). For validation purposes, a second researcher reviewed the transcripts and codes to ensure that results adequately reflected the original data. RESULTS The thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Terry et al., 2017) resulted in two main themes that were evident across all six law enforcement agencies: the organization of training and the delivery of training. In the following, the two main themes and their sub themes are presented separately. The main theme of organization of training relates to more formal, institutional information from the interviews regarding the structure and organization of training. The main theme of delivery of training reflects particular experiences and opinions of police coordinators and instructors about conducting and delivering the training. Table 2.2 provides an overview of the main themes, their sub themes, and the corresponding codes.
Police Training in Practice: Organization and Delivery According to European Law Enforcement Agencies 2 29 Table 2.2. Overview of main themes, sub themes, and their corresponding codes. Main Themes Sub Themes Codes/Topics N of Total Quotations N of Participants N of Agencies Organization of Training Training Curricula Police Academy Training 24 10 6 Training Frequency 34 11 6 Hierarchical Organization Structure 21 11 5 Curriculum Development 20 13 6 Curriculum Evaluation 13 7 6 Resource Availability Equipment Availability 12 8 6 Instructor/Personnel Availability 9 7 5 Training Facilities 20 11 5 Training Time 19 11 6 Need to Have Officers on Street 6 4 3 Training Components Practical Skill Components 14 9 6 Stress Components 19 11 6 Decision-Making Components 7 5 4 Combined Training Components 19 10 6 Dissatisfaction with Components 8 6 3 Assessment Assessment Method 15 6 6 Assessment Frequency 8 5 4 Assessment Consequence 15 8 6 Delivery of Training Role of the Instructor Perceived Responsibility 10 5 3 Task Description 22 19 6 Training Preferences 22 14 5 Enjoyment 22 13 5 Didactical Approaches and Concepts Linear Pedagogy 11 9 4 Exploratory Learning 9 7 4 Feedback 17 10 5 Repetition 13 7 5 Training Environment Importance of Training Environment 10 8 4 Tailored Training Environment 11 5 4 Realism in Training Environments 10 8 5 Note: For each code, the table provides the number of total quotations, the number of participants (training coordinators and instructors) that the quotations came from, and the number of law enforcement agencies that these participants belonged to. Organization of Police Training Training Curricula To understand the organization of formal training practices within policing, a specific look at the training curriculum of a law enforcement agency is key. A total of 33 quotations from the interviews were related to training curricula. The training curriculum outlines the components of training, as well as the frequency and duration that is spent on each of the training components. According to the interviewed law enforcement agencies, the education of a police officers is organized into two distinct phases: the basic formation of cadets at the police academy andwww.ridderprint.nl