Judith Andersen, an assistant professor in the U of T Mississauga department of psychology and Mississauga Academy of Medicine, is partnering with Peel Regional Police to implement science-based, use-of-force training that will help officers control stress and hone their split-second decisions. “Use-of-force decisions during critical incidents are an ongoing source of concern for both police and the public,” says Andersen, who is the lead developer of the International Performance Resilience and Efficiency Program (iPREP).
Police officers can find themselves in unpredictable, challenging and stressful situations. Extreme physiological responses can affect an officer’s ability to respond appropriately, potentially putting the safety of the officer and the public at risk. The iPREP program measures and analyzes an officer’s sensory nervous-system readings during highly realistic police training sessions, which simulate events like hostage takings, school shootings and calls to assist distressed or potentially violent persons. Scenarios include the types of stimuli that add to stress, such as loud crowds, poor lighting and the need to make critical decisions under time pressure. Each officer receives instruction from expert trainers. Instruction is tailored to the officer’s individual stress responses and is delivered in a manner that maximizes learning and retention.