An explorative study of police student’s decision-making in a critical incident scenario simulation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Sound use-of-force decisions are essential for police performance in critical incidents. In this exploratory study we seek to better understand the decision-making processes that are involved. Eighty-six third-year police students performed a use-of-force training exercise in an audio-visual, critical scenario simulation. Participants answered debriefing interviews about their subjective decision processes. Qualitative content analyses of the interviews indicated that the decision-making was based on visual, dynamic, and central information, more than on auditory, static, and peripheral information. Thoughts about the situation as well as thoughts about themselves were reported. Decision strategies were affected by level of expertise. Most participants made decisions that met safety concerns. The current study emphasizes the advantage of familiarizing students with a variety of operational settings, as well as their personal reactions towards them. It suggests the advantages of simulated training that includes psychological factors alongside more tactical and technical factors, including training in stress-regulation techniques.
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