Influences of Scenario Based Training on the Sympathetic Nervous System




Wilkes, Daryl

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


This paper explores the need for training methods for critical incidents to be reformed to include more scenario, or situational, based training methods to be utilized during the development of officer’s skills. Historically, this training is primarily taught ina classroom setting, by demonstrating a technique which is then mimicked by the officer, usually with a partner, in a static setting. While this method does allow a student to develop a skill, it does not put it to use in a real-life setting that will have variables and factors that can be understood by the student. These variables, or outside influences, can cause the student to lose confidence or abandon the learned procedure, thus causing an improper use of technique. This failure, or perceived failure, can cause an increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which can ultimately lead to panic and possibly an unjustified action by the officer. This paper reviews scholarly literature in the form of peer reviewed journals, prominent law enforcement journals and books to evaluate the need for the addition of this type of training. The research finds that by using additional scenario and situational based training methods, officers are able to experience the application of a skill in a more realistic setting and can possibly decrease the effects of the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.