Lower Paxton Township Police undergo new "brain training" to help officers

Lower Paxton Township Police undergo new "brain training" to help officers

Police officers are required to go through regular training to stay in top shape, but Lower Paxton Township Police are the first in Pennsylvania and only the third in the country to do a new state-of-the-art brain training.

Neuroscientists are in town this week teaching officers and administrators in the department how to better develop their minds to handle high-stress situations and complete investigations. Developers of the training program say their training will help officers be more aware and mindful.

"I think that the mind is as strong or stronger tool than both of those things combined," said Captain Mark Zerbe, of the Lower Paxton Township Police Departent.

That's why Lower Paxton Township Police are doing a brain training, or cognitive command training.

"I think it’s an untapped tool. It’s something people generally don’t exercise a lot. They don’t train," said Capt. Zerbe.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jonathan Page developed a training program that teaches officers drills that help them be more aware, problem solve and retain details in high-stress situations.

"One thing would be to expand awareness, they have to for 30 secs, count the number of things they see in their environment and ID those. Count the number of things they hear for 30 seconds," said Cognitive Command Training developer Dr. Jonathan Page.

Page says routinely doing these drills is scientifically proven to strengthen brain muscles, which are important tools for officers.

"Use of force drops, implicit bias drops, emotional knowledge and emotional intelligence, large gains."

He says it also leads to officers writing more detailed incident reports, which is a big help with investigations and trials.

"If you have a more generalized short report, it’s easier for another atty to poke holes in that and say they didn’t remember this or that," said Dr. Page.

In addition to a week of in-person training, Dr. Page has also developed an app so officers can continue strengthening those muscles over the next ten weeks. Some officers notice a difference already.

"I was always an observant person and I’m more observant now. I see things that other people don’t see," said Capt. Zerbe.

All of the officers now have that app on their phones. Supervisors will monitor them to ensure they're completing the program. Dr. Page says the department will likely see improvement in their work in just four weeks.

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