Enhancing Law Enforcement Skills: The Power of Kinesic Training with eTRAIN (Part 2)

Using Real-Life Body Camera Footage to Master Non-Verbal Communication and Improve Officer Safety

 May 24th, 2024

Part 1 of The Power of Kinesic Training

Deep Dive: Advanced Kinesic Training with eTRAIN

In the first part of our blog series, we explored the foundational principles of kinesic training and the significance of body language reading in law enforcement. We discussed the evolution of these skills through traditional methods and advanced technologies like the eTRAIN platform.

This second part delves deeper into eTRAIN, which leverages body camera footage from real-life law enforcement interactions to create realistic and practical training modules. These modules offer officers invaluable opportunities to practice their kinesic skills in practical, scenario-based environments. We will examine specific case studies to demonstrate the application of these techniques and discuss ethical considerations surrounding kinesic training.

Role of eTRAIN Software Platform in Kinesic Training

Technology has enabled law enforcement officers to refine their observation and interpretation skills with practical, scenario-based training. eTRAIN uses body camera footage from real-life law enforcement interactions. It creates training modules that give officers valuable opportunities to practice and improve their kinesic skills.

Interactive Digital Training Modules:
  • eTRAIN’s immersive modules replicate the real-world scenarios officers encounter using body camera footage. These scenarios provide firsthand experience investigating situations where officers must accurately identify non-verbal cues and assess suspect behavior.
  • Officers interact with these videos in real time. They carefully examine the behavior of real suspects and subjects while receiving immediate feedback on their observational accuracy after completing the module.
Case Study 1: Identifying Deception in Interviews

Part of the eTRAIN platform is having officers interact with actual body camera footage to train specific skills. One scenario involves officers detaining a suspect for a liquor store robbery. The officers questioned the suspect, and he admitted to stealing the liquor. The following exchange then occurs:

eTRAIN then asks the officers to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being least likely and 5 being most likely) if they believe the suspect has a weapon on his person. What would you have said? Did you notice the head gesture for “Yes” when he said he had no weapons on him? While the suspect remained compliant during the arrest, the officers found a pocket knife on his person during the search, contradicting his statement in the video we watched. We looked into our database to see how in-service officers and training cadets answered this question.

For our training cadets, on average, they gave a response of 2.4. The in-service officers, on average, gave a response of 2.7. While there was a slight difference in response values when we looked at their response times (how fast they came to this decision), the cadets responded in 4.23 seconds, while the in-service officers responded in 3.45 seconds. The over three-quarters of a second difference indicates that the in-service officers were slightly more confident in their determination and recognition of a possible deception by the suspect.

The combination of a stronger belief that the suspect might be deceiving officers and a quicker response time indicates that the in-service officers are more experienced in kinesic training than the cadets. The eTRAIN platform provides cadets with real-world experiences to train their kinesic knowledge. It also provides in-service training to officers who still need to maintain or refine their skills.

Case Study 2: Detecting Hostility During Field Encounters

In another scenario, an officer pulls over a vehicle because the driver is not wearing his seat belt. This module features body camera footage of a field encounter in a public setting. The officer must interpret the subject’s defensive behavior, varying eye contact, and hand gestures, which indicate possible hostility.

Watch the video below:

After the video plays to the officers, they are asked: Which of the following actions or non-actions by subject of the car stop would increase your situational awareness? (Select all that apply).

The options for the officers are:

  • Failure to respond verbally
  • A dirty truck
  • Failure to make eye contact
  • Non-verbal non-responsiveness
  • What would you have answered?

Overall, the officers responded highly accurately, averaging ~92%. In this video, it was vital for officers to recognize the verbal and non-verbal behavior that indicates hostility. In the rest of the video, the driver speeds off and, when cornered by officers, later opens fire with the weapon he stashed in the truck.

Immediate Feedback and Continuous Learning:

Each scenario includes immediate feedback, helping officers compare their observations with the platform’s analysis. This continuous feedback loop enables them to refine their body language reading skills. Regular engagement with eTRAIN builds confidence in officers’ abilities to discern truth from deception, detect potential dangers, and respond appropriately in high-pressure situations. eTRAIN provides law enforcement professionals with a realistic and effective training method. By analyzing actual body camera footage, officers become more adept at making accurate assessments, responding tactically. They can also carry out their duties more safely and effectively.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations

While kinesic training offers law enforcement officers significant benefits, it has challenges and ethical concerns.

  • Interpretation Errors: One of the primary challenges in reading body language is the potential for misinterpretation. Cultural differences, personal biases, and individual variability can lead to inaccurate conclusions about a subject’s intentions or emotions.
  • Over-Reliance on Cues: There is a risk that officers may overly depend on body language cues while neglecting other critical pieces of evidence. Relying solely on non-verbal signals can sometimes lead to false assumptions.
  • Limited Training: Many current programs offer only short workshops or introductory training on kinesic techniques, which needs to be improved to develop expertise. More comprehensive and continuous training is necessary to build a solid foundation.
Ethical Concerns:
  • Potential Biases: Relying on body language cues could reinforce existing biases or stereotypes, leading to unfair treatment of certain groups or individuals. Officers should trained to minimize personal biases in their assessments.
  • Ethical Use of Information: Officers must use kinesic training techniques responsibly to avoid manipulating individuals unfairly or coercing them into providing false information.

Using actual body camera footage in training raises critical ethical questions regarding privacy and potential misuse. eTRAIN collaborates closely with law enforcement departments to ensure the footage is used responsibly. These considerations include securing permissions, anonymizing identifiable details where possible, and adhering strictly to legal and ethical guidelines. These measures help maintain the privacy of individuals captured in the footage and uphold public trust in law enforcement practices. This cooperative approach ensures that eTRAIN uses training materials to respect individual rights and foster a responsible learning environment.

Final Thoughts: The Future of Law Enforcement Training with eTRAIN

In law enforcement, understanding body language is crucial for interpreting suspects’ intentions, discerning truth from deception, and responding effectively in high-stress situations. Kinesic training provides officers with invaluable skills for reading non-verbal cues, which can aid investigations and ensure personal safety.

Technological platforms like eTRAIN are helping to bridge the gap in traditional training programs. It offers comprehensive and practical modules that use actual body camera footage to enhance observation and interpretation skills. However, the challenges and ethical concerns highlighted the need for continuous training and responsible application of these techniques.

By incorporating kinesic training into their skill set and remaining aware of its limitations and ethical implications, officers can make more informed assessments, de-escalate conflicts effectively, and carry out their duties with greater confidence and integrity.