International Performance Resilience and Efficiency Program (iPrep)
iPrep implements mental and physical control techniques to harness the stress response in order to improve use of force decision-making and resiliency to stress. The main aspects of the training include education about the stress response, the use of visualization, and controlled breathing while receiving biofeedback (e.g., real time heart rate [HR]). These strategies are incorporated into increasingly more stressful use of force scenarios in which officers receive biofeedback to practice gaining control of their ability to regulate breathing and achieve a positive mental state.
Is the program based on research?
Yes, the program includes stress reduction techniques (e.g., controlled breathing and visualization) that have been supported in the policing context (see Arnetz, Arble, Backman, Lynch, & Lublin 2013; McCraty & Atkinson, 2012). Additionally, the gradual exposure to higher levels of stress during scenarios is supported by research (e.g., Driskell, Johnston, & Salas, 2001).
Has the program been independently evaluated?
We could not locate any independent reviews of the program.
Was the program rigorously tested?
The program was evaluated using a randomized controlled trial in which tactical officers (N = 12) were matched on various factors (e.g., gender, body mass index, training, and performance during initial testing; Andersen & Gustafsberg, 2016). The treatment group (n = 6) underwent three days of iPrep training while the control group (n = 6) completed training as usual (e.g., training marksmanship). During simulated use of force encounters, the officers who completed iPrep had significantly higher situational awareness (e.g., noticed more threats), higher accuracy in shoot/no shoot decisions, and performance more generally. Finally, the officers in the treatment group also reported more confidence prior to the scenarios.
More recently, Andersen and colleagues (2018) conducted a longitudinal evaluation of iPrep using a police service in Ontario. Compared to measures prior to the intervention, after the completion of iPrep officers made significantly less errors during shoot/no shoot decisions and had a lower HR on average during the scenarios. These benefits were retained for up to 12 months but began to significantly degrade at the 18-month follow-up. While these findings are promising, a control group was not used during this examination.
Has the program evaluation been replicated?
To our knowledge, iPrep has been empirically evaluated by the program developers twice.
Was the program tested in Canada?
Yes, see Andersen and colleagues (2018).
iPrep is founded on empirical research, however, some of this research is not specific to use of force contexts. The limitations of the evaluations of the program (e.g., small sample size or a lack of control group) warrant caution when generalizing the initial positive results. Further, there remains a need for independent assessment.
Bryce Jenkins, Carleton University
Bryce Jenkins is a Master’s candidate in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University. As a member of the Police Research Lab, his research interests broadly focus on evidence-based policing. He is particularly interested in the public’s understanding of police use of force, use of force training, and police militarization.
Dr. Lorraine Hope, Portstmouth University
Lorraine Hope is Professor of Applied Cognitive Psychology at the University of Portsmouth. She holds degrees from Lancaster, Bristol and Aberdeen universities and is a member of the UK Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST). Her work focuses on the performance of human cognition in applied contexts, including memory and decision-making under challenging conditions.
Andersen, J. P., & Gustafsberg, H. (2016). A training method to improve police use of force decision making: a randomized controlled trial. SAGE Open, 6(2), 1-13.
Andersen, J. P., Di Nota, P. M., Beston, B., Boychuck, E. C., Gustafsberg, H., Popawski, S., & Arpaia, J (2018). Reducing lethal force errors by modulating police physiology. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60(10), 867-874.
Arnetz, B. B., Arble, E., Backman, L., Lynch, A., & Lublin, A. (2013). Assessment of a prevention program for work-related stress among urban police officers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 86, 79-88.
Driskell, J. E., Johnston, J. H., & Salas, E. (2001). Does Stress Training Generalize to Novel Settings? Human Factors, 43(1), 99–110.
McCraty, R., & Atkinson, M. (2012). Resilience training program reduces physiological and psychological stress in police officers. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 1, 44-66.