One of the most challenging situations for law enforcement involves the interaction with persons suffering from mental illness. These interactions can be complicated further if the person is experiencing auditory hallucinations that are acting as a barrier to communication. Add a weapon into the situation and the results can be catastrophic for all parties.
Professionals in mental health care have suggested that police could benefit from understanding that people in mental crisis may display bizarre behavior as a result of their illness that may be wrongfully interpreted as anger, aggression or non-compliance. The SimVoice™ was developed to facilitate a method of compassionate, experiential learning, that allows officers to experience interaction with the police from the perspective of the person suffering from mental illness.
This is accomplished by creating crisis intervention training scenarios where one of the officers role play a person with mental illness while fellow officers employ de-escalation through crisis intervention. The role playing officer wears Bluetooth headphones that allow a tablet or smart phone loaded with the SimVoice™ software to create the sensation of auditory hallucinations. The scenarios and voices are designed to interact together and create an incredibly realistic experience that can be controlled and guided by the instructor through the SimVoice™ software.
The SimVoice™ hallucinations tracks are designed to include reference to either a gun, knife, bat or no weapon. This creates a more realistic scenario that forces the student officers to apply proper tactics, decisions related to use of force and appropriate crisis intervention. Ultimately, the goal of each scenario is to arrive at a peaceful resolution through proper de-escalation techniques. The instructor guides this by manipulating the SimVoice™ hallucinations with the interactive display on the tablet. The voices can be escalated towards non-compliance, or de-escalated towards compliance based on the performance of the student officers.
The SimVoice™ assists in achieving three primary objectives:
- Create a true barrier to communication for the scenario.
- Guide the level of compliance through the ability to change the theme of the voices.
- Most importantly, allow the student officer to experience the challenges faced by persons experiencing mental illness in an effort to create empathy and compassion in law enforcement officers.
Q: What are some of the causes of auditory hallucinations?
There are numerous mental illnesses that can cause auditory hallucinations such as: Schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, and PTSD. Other situations that can cause auditory hallucinations include: Alcohol and drugs (amphetamines, ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, etc), brain tumors, epilepsy, encephalitis and meningitis.
Q: I have seen other websites that allow you to experience the sensations of auditory hallucinations, how does the SimVoice™ differ?
A: The SimVoice™ is specifically designed for law enforcement training. The voices include acknowledgement of a police presence, specific weapons and an incremental evolution to reward proper crisis intervention. All of these factors can be controlled by the instructor through the SimVoice™ interactive display on the tablet or smart phone touch screen.
Q: Is there a specific crisis intervention model that supplements the SimVoice system?
A: No. The SimVoice™ is designed to enhance any existing crisis intervention program. However, since the SimVoice™ is most effective when being used during a high fidelity, reality based training scenario, instructors are encouraged to be properly trained in delivering this type of training. For more information on reality based training for law enforcement, we encourage you to read the soon to be released book “A Scientific Approach to Reality Based Training.”
Q: Is the SimVoice™ really free for law enforcement?
A: Yes. Setcan created the SimVoice™ as a way to give back to law enforcement and the community at large. We believe the SimVoice™ is a powerful tool that will create empathy, compassion and understanding for law enforcement officers dealing with people in crisis.