Counter Bias Training Simulation

A reality-based training program, grounded in rigorous experimental research, designed to help police officers identify and overcome implicit biases.




Trust between law enforcement and the people they protect and serve is essential. When citizens lose trust in the police force, grave consequences result, including creating a divided community. Counter Bias Training Simulation (CBTsim) provides a solution for police forces to utilize high-quality, scenario based, judgment training that conditions officers to respond on indicators of threat and not demographics. Created by researchers at Washington State University, CBTsim is an evidence-based training that can help police across the nation understand and be aware of what goes into decision making in potentially life-threatening situations.




The purpose of Counter Bias Training Simulation (CBTSim) is to repeatedly expose officers to multiple realistic scenarios in a use-of-force simulator. In the various simulations, the suspect’s characteristics, e.g. age, gender, race, or socio-economic status, are not predictably related to the outcome, or whether or not use of deadly force on the part of the officer is required.

Delivery Method

During the training, officers respond to scenarios, then engage in self-reflective debriefing (assisted by peers and instructors) to identify and understand motivations to use or hold deadly force. The simulation scenarios were developed by WSU, based on more than 30 years of data on officer-involved shootings — then reviewed by top academic and practitioner experts.

The Delivery Method

These evidence-based scenarios have been used in cutting edge experimental research, and are either “deadly” or “null” events that require accurate and unbiased deadly force judgment and decision-making. The ultimate goal is for officers to respond based on the objective level of threat and not be influenced by suspect characteristics.

Sample Scenario

Testimonial videos

The Delivery Method


Dr. Lois James and Dr. Stephen James received their undergraduate degrees from Trinity College Dublin. Both received their Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from WSU in 2011 for Dr. L. James and 2015 for Dr. S. James.

Lois James, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the WSU College of Nursing. Dr. L. James conducts simulated research on the impact of suspect characteristics on decisions to shoot. The results of this research have significantly advanced what is known about how suspect race influences police officers during deadly encounters, and have been heavily featured in the mainstream media.

She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Research Advisory Council, and has received several honors for her work, including the Best Violence Research Award by the American Psychological Association.

Stephen James, Ph.D. is an Assistant Research Professor at the WSU College of Medicine. Dr. S. James has managed the WSU Simulated Hazardous Operation Tasks (SHOT) lab since 2009. His research focuses on training and policy reform to promote police officer legitimacy and safety. Dr. S. James also advises law enforcement agencies on policy and training across the U.S. and Canada.

He is a member of the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training research advisory team, and has received several awards for his work, including the 2016 Outstanding Paper of the Year Award.


  • “I have always been impressed with the great work of the Simulated Hazardous Operational Tasks (SHOT) lab at Washington State University and am very excited to see the development of their work on CBTsim. I have been troubled for years regarding the quality of training in American law enforcement particularly with respect to use of force. This approach in combining deadly force judgment and decision making along with facilitated self reflection is so necessary. I encourage all of you to learn as much as you can about this training.”

    Gordon Graham, world renowned risk-management consultant and co-founder of LEXIPOL, a company designed to standardize policy, procedure and training in public safety operations
  • “Training designed to help police officers reduce and manage their human, implicit biases is critically important for 21st century policing. In addition to implicit-bias awareness training–which is most relevant to contemplative (versus split-second) decisions, agencies need to provide force-judgement training that reflects what we know from the science. The CBTsim provides this evidence-based training by combining force judgement and decision-making simulation with facilitated self-reflection about bias. This training regimen is grounded in rigorous experimental research on bias and represents a significant step forward in our ability to reduce the impact of human biases on those split-second use-of-force decisions that officers must make.”

    Lorie Fridell, Associate Professor with the University of South Florida, is the former director of research at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and is the developer of “Fair and Impartial Policing”
  • “Basing law enforcement training on evidence from well designed and soundly executed research is critical for improving American policing in the 21st Century. Because the deadly force decision making simulator developed by the researchers at WSU grew out of state of the art research, it holds great promise to assist officers with the single most important aspect of their work.”

    David Klinger, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and former LAPD and Redmond (WA) patrol officer
  • “The team at WSU are the only people I know that are linking actual human performance and bias training. Those two go together. The fact that someone has implicit bias is old news and something that is well documented, as are the solutions. But no one else is putting it into play with how bias training makes differences in officer performance. Astoria is a unique City and I have had the extraordinary pleasure of working for, and following, innovative Chiefs who were not afraid to take us places at the front of movements. I believe that CBTsim will help us be aware of the impact that our biases have on our performance and improve our performance to guard against our biases.”

    Brad Johnston, Chief of Police, Assistant City Manager, City of Astoria

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