Hillsborough Police Department implements new training program

cognitive_command_training

Duane Hampton is the chief of police for the town of Hillsborough. 

In a press release from Jan. 25, the department announced that it was adopting the Cognitive Command (C2) Training program.

Jonathan Page, a neuroscientist, law enforcement researcher and the president of C2 Training has been developing the program for the past decade. The program has been in field-testing for the past three years, Page said, and is just now being offered to police agencies.

“There’s been some other research projects going on with some other departments. But Hillsborough was the first department to say, ‘We want this for our entire department.’ So I think that’s noteworthy for them — they’re very forward-thinking.”

Built on scientific principles of brain-functioning, the program is designed to create subconscious habits to guide more effective policing behavior, Page said. The program looks at things like the brain’s tendency to fill in the blanks, its limited attention-span and its ability to act quickly. It takes advantage of these tendencies so that the brain will be free to think, and plan and engage in other things.

Catherine Wright, spokesperson for the town of Hillsborough, said the police department has been trying to make every day a training day.

C2 Training begins by giving officers a toolbook that includes exercises and learning material, followed by classroom training sessions and then a training period that lasts for 10 weeks. The training is self-administered, with veteran officers engaging in various exercises five days a week to build habits while on and away from the job.

Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said the training emphasizes three key concepts — breathing, mental imagery and self-talk — to combat stress in critical moments and maintain mental sharpness.

“It’s designed to help our officers build patterns so that when stress starts hitting them, they’re able to keep control of the situation — they’re able to keep control of themselves — they don’t fall into tunnel vision and overreactions,” Hampton said.

“It allows us to stay in the moment and not allow the emotion of a situation to kind of override being able to make clear decisions.”

The Hillsborough Police Department has already completed the classroom education sessions from Jan. 18-20. Hampton said the department is currently in the initial phases of the 10-week training program.

Because the program is still relatively new, Hampton said they will be applying the training to the entire department but will phase it in based on peoples’ schedules.

“For a serving agency, we’re kind of learning our way, so we’re going to be phasing it, so not everybody’s going to be on the same step in the process,” Hampton said.

Hampton said the cost of the program is about $400 per officer. The program includes the learning materials they’re given, training sessions, a follow-up assessment six months after training and future consultations.

“We’re really excited about the program,” Hampton said. “It is really new and it really focuses training on an area that I’ve never experienced any other training really try to reach.”

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