Assessing Between-Officer Variability in Responses to a Live-acted Deadly Force Encounter as a Window to the Effectiveness of Training and Experience


Authors: Robert R. Horn, William J. Lewinski, Gustavo Sandri Heidner, Joshua Lawton, Craig Allen, Michael W. Albin & Nicholas P. Murray

We aimed to infer the effectiveness of officers’ training and experience by assessing consistency of behavioural responses between them. If officers facing the same scenario respond in similar ways, this implies their use of shared cognition, through acquired in-common tactical knowledge. Officers (n = 42) responded to a live-acted scenario in which an assailant ultimately discharged his weapon. Triangulated camera positions assessed their movement patterns, final positions, and weapon responses relative to when the assailant fired his weapon. We also assessed the officers’ visual search and gathered information regarding their experience and rest. Our second aim was to examine sources of variability in the officers’ responses. We found extensive variability in all aspects of the response. Experience did not impact spatial or temporal behavioural responses. However, longer hours awake and lower reported rest negatively impacted officers’ responses. We conclude that officers had insufficient training and experience to demonstrate in-common knowledge.

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