The Science of Force Confrontations Now Available In 1 Neat Package

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A one-stop source of information on what officers, trainers, investigators and administrators need to know about the effects of stress on performance and memory in critical incidents is now available for download by clicking here.

The report, 24 pages and nearly 12,000 words long, is a comprehensive and thoroughly documented summary of the latest research on the psychological, biological and physiological dynamics of armed confrontations, and the implications these scientific findings have for training, tactics, and courtroom testimony.

Authors are Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, and Dr. Audrey Honig, head of psychological services for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. and chair of the IACP’s Police Psychological Services Section.

The document appears in the current issue of the journal Law Enforcement Executive Forum, under the title “A Survey of the Research on Human Factors Related to Lethal Force Encounters.” The Forum’s publisher, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board Executive Institute, charges a $4 fee for downloading it in an Acrobat PDF format.

The report is divided into key components:

  • The Science of the Mind–how your brain processes conscious thoughts and memories;
  • The Effect of Stress on Perception and Memory–how physiological arousal interferes with your ability to receive, retain and recall information;
  • Common Perceptual and Informational “Errors”–typical distortions from stress that may affect your vision, perspective, attention, contextual cues, and memory and often lead to misinterpretations or faulty recollections of events;
  • Reaction Time–how too much or too little arousal can impair your performance, including the influence of anticipation, distractions and gender;
  • Memory: Fact or Fiction?–how the reliability of your recall can be affected by such factors as the passage of time and returning to the scene of the critical incident;
  • Implications for Training and Tactics–how stress-inoculation training, complex scenario-based realism, “metacognitive” skills (like positive self-talk and mental imagery), and personalized video debriefings can enhance your performance;
  • Interviewing and Incident Recall–how a better understanding of stress factors that affect perception and performance can maximize the chances for developing reliable information from shooting survivors;
  • Implications/Recommendations–how scientific findings can guide your department’s training programs.

After discussing each subject, the authors present Lessons Learned: relevant core conclusions, bullet-pointed in language that is easy to understand and remember.

“New research in the last 2 decades has significantly advanced the understanding of how the human brain perceives and processes information, particularly when under stress,” Lewinski says. “To effectively train and then fairly evaluate the performance of an officer in a shooting or other tactical encounter requires an understanding of this new information.

“The findings summarized in the Forum report provide an excellent foundation for anyone who is professionally concerned with the police use of force.”

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