WSU researchers create bias training simulator for officers

WSU's unique police training simulator

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Researchers at the Washington State University Spokane campus have created simulation gear to help police train for situations where they need to use deadly force.

Simulated Hazardous Operational Tasks Laboratory researchers have combined real-life video scenarios modeled after evidence and research from actual police-involved shootings. The simulation Is called the Counter Bias Training Simulation, or CBTsim, and tests the implicit bias of officers.

“The learning might be more meaningful and sustainable because it’s very reality-driven and we know that law enforcement training, if possible, should be reality-based and evidence-based,” said research professor Lois James.

Most implicit bias trainings are taught in classes, but the CBTsim will put trainees in real-life, tense situations with actors of different races who portray people of various backgrounds and economic statuses.

“They don’t always lead to stereotyping, but they can. It’s very important that we aware of them, and be aware if they are motiving our decisions, to be able to then counter that,” said James.

The CBTsim is also portable. Many small police departments all over the United States will gain a better understanding of how, not only officers, but humans, react in these situations.

“CBTsim provides a platform that will be much easier to evaluate and be able to say whether it’s working. And, if it is, that would mean a huge amount for the law enforcement community,” said James. 

A police department in Astoria, Oregon will be the first to be trained with CBTsim. Meantime, WSU researchers will set up their simulations in classrooms and gathering halls.

KREM


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