Monitoring the impact of scenario-based use-of-force simulations on police heart rate: Evaluating the royal Canadian mounted police skills refresher program

J. Armstrong, Joseph Clare, D.B. Plecas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This research aimed to establish the extent to which scenario-based use-of-force training undertaken by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) replicates aspects of the essential physiological characteristics of real-life, highstress police activity. Using heart rate monitors, the physiological stress reactions of 132 officers were recorded while they completed one of four use-of-force training scenarios (including a control, where no use-of-force was required). Average heart rate information was used as a proxy measure for officer stress reactions at four time points during the scenarios: (a) 10 minute pre-scenario, (b) during the scenario when verbal contact was made, (c) during the scenario when physical contact was made, and (d) 10 minute post-scenario. Relative to pre- and post-scenario rates, heart rates were elevated during verbal and physical contact. No differences in this pattern were observed between scenarios, including the control scenario. Relative to previous use-of-force simulation evaluations, the strengths of this design are the size and quality of the sample of participants, the collection of the stress proxy measure during the scenarios, and the inclusion of a control scenario. Overall, this examination demonstrated that the RCMP's current scenario-based use-of-force skills refresher program produces heart rate patterns that are consistent with the elevated physiological stress produced by real-world policing as demonstrated in prior field research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-59
JournalCriminology, Criminal Justice, Law and Society
Volume15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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title = "Monitoring the impact of scenario-based use-of-force simulations on police heart rate: Evaluating the royal Canadian mounted police skills refresher program",
abstract = "This research aimed to establish the extent to which scenario-based use-of-force training undertaken by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) replicates aspects of the essential physiological characteristics of real-life, highstress police activity. Using heart rate monitors, the physiological stress reactions of 132 officers were recorded while they completed one of four use-of-force training scenarios (including a control, where no use-of-force was required). Average heart rate information was used as a proxy measure for officer stress reactions at four time points during the scenarios: (a) 10 minute pre-scenario, (b) during the scenario when verbal contact was made, (c) during the scenario when physical contact was made, and (d) 10 minute post-scenario. Relative to pre- and post-scenario rates, heart rates were elevated during verbal and physical contact. No differences in this pattern were observed between scenarios, including the control scenario. Relative to previous use-of-force simulation evaluations, the strengths of this design are the size and quality of the sample of participants, the collection of the stress proxy measure during the scenarios, and the inclusion of a control scenario. Overall, this examination demonstrated that the RCMP's current scenario-based use-of-force skills refresher program produces heart rate patterns that are consistent with the elevated physiological stress produced by real-world policing as demonstrated in prior field research.",
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AB - This research aimed to establish the extent to which scenario-based use-of-force training undertaken by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) replicates aspects of the essential physiological characteristics of real-life, highstress police activity. Using heart rate monitors, the physiological stress reactions of 132 officers were recorded while they completed one of four use-of-force training scenarios (including a control, where no use-of-force was required). Average heart rate information was used as a proxy measure for officer stress reactions at four time points during the scenarios: (a) 10 minute pre-scenario, (b) during the scenario when verbal contact was made, (c) during the scenario when physical contact was made, and (d) 10 minute post-scenario. Relative to pre- and post-scenario rates, heart rates were elevated during verbal and physical contact. No differences in this pattern were observed between scenarios, including the control scenario. Relative to previous use-of-force simulation evaluations, the strengths of this design are the size and quality of the sample of participants, the collection of the stress proxy measure during the scenarios, and the inclusion of a control scenario. Overall, this examination demonstrated that the RCMP's current scenario-based use-of-force skills refresher program produces heart rate patterns that are consistent with the elevated physiological stress produced by real-world policing as demonstrated in prior field research.

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