Written by Ellis Pines – April 2, 2019
The Value of Realistic Scenario-Based Training: From Continuum to “Force Options”
“Because it’s impossible for any continuum model to provide for an entire set of circumstances in each very unique situation, a ‘force options’ model is the optimal policy alternative.”
Ed Flosi, M.S., Director, Training Shot Spotter, Inc.; Instructor PROELIA Defense and Arrest Tactics, Sergeant (ret.), San Jose (CA) Police Department; “Use of Force: Downfalls of the continuum model,” PoliceOne.com, May 30, 2012
In the article referenced above, Flosi traces the movement from continuum-based training (e.g. ladder, escalation, wheel) to “force options.” He notes, “Continuum models were developed decades ago when the courts provided little guidance on use of force. They were used to explain ‘when’ an officer could use a type of force instead of the traditional range courses that explained ‘how’ to fire a pistol. The continuum models are not based in law and in fact may be in conflict to what would be considered ‘objectively reasonable’ by the legal standards of today. There is no possible way that any continuum model can provide for an entire set of circumstances in each very unique situation.”
He concludes the key to a force options model, which determines the reasonableness of an officer’s response, is training.
Virtual training scenarios can help officers prepare for the circumstances they will encounter in unique situations. For example, you respond to a call with a backup officer where gunshots have been heard coming from behind a housing complex. Upon arrival, a resident meets you and gives a full description of the person he saw discharging the weapon. You quickly find a suspect fitting that description. When confronted, the suspect takes a defensive posture behind a SUV. You have to exercise extreme caution and utilize communication skills to keep this situation under control.
Since the scenario is based on an actual 2013 case, trainers can measure responses against known results. Officers thus have more experience in gauging a dangerous situation.
For more information on realistic training scenarios, visit this page.