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The effects of simulator training on the development of creative thinking in law enforcement officers

Joy VerPlanck (Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 15 December 2020

Issue publication date: 27 May 2021




The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the relationship between simulation training and police officers' ability to think creatively in crises.


This quantitative study used instructional design principles including aspects of Cognitive Load Theory to explore the cognitive load and creative thinking of police officers training with a MILO Range use-of-force simulator.


When provided with scenarios requiring de-escalation of emotionally disturbed persons, and when encouraged to be creative or innovative in their approach to de-escalate, officers were observed being more creative after experiencing a second simulation with the same scenario; however, multiple repetitions of similar scenarios did not result in an innovative response.

Practical implications

The results of this study suggest that cognitive load could be affected by changing the manner in which the officers train in simulation. When a simulator curriculum is designed with the incorporation of cognitive load theory, there is potential to foster creative thinking in a situation where de-escalation is the goal.


Instructional design principles, consideration of cognitive load and creative problem-solving are nontraditional methods in the law enforcement field and in use-of-force training.



VerPlanck, J. (2021), "The effects of simulator training on the development of creative thinking in law enforcement officers", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 455-468.



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