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Lane, 50, lieutenant, Los Angeles Police Department

Role-Playing as a Learning Tool

May 19, 1997

On behalf of the Los Angeles Police Department, I coordinate a conference on threat management each year.

David Swink and his company, Strategic Interactions, provided some role-playing scenarios at our conference in Anaheim based on how to manage and confront people. Interactive role-playing scenarios are a very good learning tool. It helps coalesce ideas.

The LAPD unit that I oversee handles stalking cases. There are threats to dignitaries and celebrities. We address everything from the theoretical to how to intervene. A component involves psychological concepts.

The training we had last year involved a scenario of a mentally disturbed individual who presented himself to the reception area of a major corporation to warn of a pending disaster.

We work through role-playing scenarios of how a security person would take him to an office, how to interview, how to get pertinent information to develop some strategy of why he's there and whether he is legitimate.

It's done with a kind of stop action--they'll take a scenario so far, then stop. A narrator will say, "What do you think? What's he doing right? What wrong? What would you do differently. Now let's go back to the situation and see how it develops."

This kind of role-playing is a good way for the audience to share the thought processes of other professionals. We learn not only from those who are presenting, but also from our counterparts.

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