Counter Bias Training Simulation

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


“One of the critical issues impacting law enforcement today.”


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) offers high-quality, scenario-based judgment training that conditions officers to respond on indicators of threat and not on demographics.

Created by researchers at Washington State University, CBTsim is an evidence-based training that can help law enforcement across the nation understand and be aware of what goes into their decision-making in potentially life-threatening situations.

CBTSim has been awarded the Seal of Excellence by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). It's one of only two implicit-bias classes to receive the prestigious certification, which ensures it will be accepted for training credit by participating POST organizations nationwide. CBTSim also was selected for a 2017 Defense TechConnect Innovation award. Only 15 percent of innovations submitted to the Defense Innovation Summit received such an award, which is based on a product's potential positive impact for service members and national security.

IADLEST logo Defense Innovation Award logo




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

Delivery Method

Officers respond to scenarios during the training, then take part in a meaningful debriefing and self-evaluation session to identify and understand motivations behind their decisions to use or hold deadly force. These evidence-based scenarios have been employed in cutting-edge research, and are either “deadly” or “null” events that require accurate and unbiased judgment and decision-making by participants.


The scenarios were developed by Washington State University researchers and are based on more than 30 years of data on officer-involved shootings, then reviewed by top academics and practitioners. Officers can become conditioned to ignore suspect demographics if they are consistently unrelated to the scenario outcome. No other training programs counter implicit bias through simulation, a learning method that's more effective than lecture or memorization.

Sample Scenario

Testimonial video

Testimonial Video

Testimonial Video


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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