The National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA), its parent organization, the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), and VirTra, Inc., have announced the Law Enforcement Dog Encounters Training (LEDET) focused on police training for dog encounters.

Being billed as the first of its kind, the LEDET training program includes structured coursework on engaging and deescalating dog encounters, along with simulation training with VirTra's immersive, high-definition video training system. Together, the new training protocols help law enforcement officers learn safe interactions with domestic dogs. The LEDET program is a culmination of two years of collaboration between the National Sheriffs' Association and law enforcement executives, legal consultants, and behavior experts to develop a gold standard for protecting officers, pets, and the public.

The LEDET scenario package was officially rolled out in VirTra's booth at the 2018 National Sheriffs' Association Annual Education and Technology Expo in New Orleans, LA.

Pilot programs are scheduled to occur in Orange County, FL, and Oakland County, MI.

The LEDET program is based on canine behavior science paired with advanced officer safety measures. The combination will enable officers to make compassionate, safe decisions when interacting with pets under stressful circumstances. The course includes interactive scenarios where officers and dogs are placed in common situations. Using VirTra's branched decision-making technology, these interactions will enable officers to experience conflict and make choices in real-time. The course focuses on the use of less- and non-lethal methods of keeping officers, the public, and pets safe during contact.

"LEDET is unique because it is the first dog training course developed by law enforcement officers, for law enforcement officers," said Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall, TX, and president of the National Sheriffs' Association. "Our subject matter experts are the most experienced consultants in the animal, law enforcement and legal fields when it comes to these kinds of cases and have guided policy and accountability using a combination of extensive canine behavior training and law enforcement experience. This has given us the perspective of working street cops coupled with cutting edge behavioral science and extensive experience with truly dangerous dogs."

"Law enforcement officers want to handle their calls safely and go home at the end of their shift, while not causing any needless harm," said John Thompson, Deputy Executive Director of the NSA. "This course will give them much needed tools to recognize and address possible conflict with dogs instead of simply shooting an animal."

This state-of-the-art program will be complementary to the full Law Enforcement Dog Encounters Training (LEDET) course in development by NLECAA in coordination with the Department of Justice's COPS Office. This is the only canine encounter course endorsed by the National Sheriffs' Association.

"Many conflicts can be defused or even avoided by understanding dog behavior," said James Crosby, Director, Canine Encounters Training, NCLEAA. "Keeping officers and pets safe is the focus of the course. Large liability awards have resulted from officers needlessly using lethal force. We aim to keep the officers safe while reducing those deadly conflicts."

The content package includes five interactive scenarios and an additional training module that covers the basics of canine behavior. All six scenarios/modules are available in VirTra's content library for the V-300 training simulator, and four modules are available for the V-180 and V-100 training simulators. The complementary training program is under final review, with an anticipated release later this year.

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