I (Chip) recently had the opportunity to attend the Force Science® Institute Certification Course hosted by the San Jose, California Police Department. I cannot say enough good things about the quality of the instructors and the curriculum. The training was informative, thought provoking, and delivered in an extremely professional and digestible fashion.
The 5-day course began with opening remarks by Dr. Bill Lewinski, founder and director of the Force Science® Research Center and the Force Science® Institute, Ltd., which is a research, consulting and training organization focused primarily on human behavior in use-of-force situations. Dr. Lewinski’s passion for law enforcement was evident during his heartfelt opening statements, these comments set the tone for the weeklong course.
My fellow attendees and I received lectures by some of the best educators and practitioners in the areas of Psychophysiology, Neuro-Anatomy, Human Performance, Post Trauma Interviewing, Kinesiology and Legal Implications. Dr. Matthew Sztajnkrycer taught a block of instruction titled “Understanding & Leveraging the Psychophysiology of Emotional Intensity,” which dealt with fear, the arousal response and physiological and psychological changes experienced during moments of peak stress. Dr. Joan Vickers, a Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, lectured the group on several aspects of Neuro-Motor Psychology. The most fascinating aspect of Dr. Vickers presentation dealt with a perception-action variable she calls “The Quiet Eye.” She was able to deftly apply lessons learned from working with elite athletes to decision-making scenarios officers are faced with during deadly force encounters. Mr. Chris Lawrence, a charter member of the Technical Advisory Board for the Force Science® Institute with over 30-years of law enforcement experience led a discussion on the Fundamentals of Human Performance. This talk outlined basic principles regarding human response capacity. Lawrence supported the content with empirical research and appropriately related the findings to post use of force incident investigation. Dr. Edward Geiselman, Professor of Psychology at UCLA and co-developer of the Cognitive Interview Technique®, shared memory-enhancing techniques for investigative interviewing. Based on scientifically derived principles of memory and communications theory, Geiselman applied these interviewing techniques to the analysis of actual police interviews. This system is relatively easy to train and implement and has been proven to reliably increase the amount of information obtained during an interview. Clinical Forensic Psychologist Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, formerly of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, shared the results of 20-years of research into officer safety. The lessons learned by Dr. Pinizzotto and his team of researchers during interviews with hundreds of officers and suspects are invaluable to law enforcement. Dr. Lewinski returned to the podium periodically throughout the week to summarize the material presented by the other speakers. He also spent a great deal of time helping the class to understand the Biomechanics of Deadly Force Encounters. He utilized real-life case studies, video analysis, and actual research conducted by the Institute to demonstrate the effects of human factors and environmental features that press upon law enforcement officers who are engaged in deadly force decision-making processes. Finally, Mr. John Hoag, Esq., owner of the law firm Snyder and Hoag, LLC, lectured on Post-Shooting Policy and Legal Implication. The information gleaned from Mr. Hoag provided legal validation for operationalizing the scientific principles we had been learning all week.
The course was extremely challenging, but a whole lot of fun—especially if you enjoy learning from the best. Each participant was required to pass a comprehensive written examination—one of the tougher ones I have taken in my law enforcement career—and take part in a group case study, which was presented to the staff and fellow students on the last day of the course. I had a great time, which was made better by a surprise appearance by my good friend Dr. Alexis Artwohl, co-author of Deadly Force Encounters (http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Force-Encounters-Mentally-Physically/dp/0873649354) Alexis stopped by for a couple of days to help the groups prepare for their case study presentations. Alexis, Josh Lego, and my new friend, Felipe Gonzalez of the New Mexico State Police, had the opportunity to eat lunch together and reflect on the lessons we learned during the course—as well as share a few laughs. This course is a MUST for anyone involved in use of force policy-making, training, and investigation. I encourage all administrators to consider the this invaluable content provided by Dr. Lewinski’s team of experts. The knowledge garnered from this course has the power to save lives, careers and operating budgets!