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An Empathetic Psychological Perspective of Police Deadly Force Training

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Abstract Police officers must be able to make an accurate appraisal of a lethal encounter and respond with appropriate force to mitigate the threat to their own lives and to the lives of others. Contemporary police deadly force training places the cadet in mock lethal encounters, which are designed to simulate those occurring in the real lives of law enforcement officers. This Reality Base Training (RBT) is designed to provide cadets with experiences that require their reactions to be within the law, policies and procedures, and ethics while undergoing a very stressful, emotional, and physically dynamic situation (Artwohl & Christensen, 1997; Blum, 2000; Grossman, 1996; Miller, 2008; Murray, 2006). Three police cadets provided written accounts of their deadly force training experiences in the RBT format. The descriptive phenomenological psychological method was used to analyze the data and to synthesize a general psychological structure of their experiences. The results reveal the perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors reflecting the role of consciousness and psychological subjectivity in the participants’ understandings and decision-making in the simulated situations.

Affiliations: 1: Utah Valley University; 2: Utah Valley University


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