Simulator scenarios give SJR State cadets realistic training

Cadets practice their observation and de-escalation skills in the program’s new simulation training lab

Cadets enrolled in SJR State’s law enforcement academy practice their observation and de-escalation skills in the program’s new simulation training lab. Pictured are two cadets who are “called” to a home by a wife requesting her husband to leave. The suspect appears to have been drinking and has broken various objects in the home. The cadets engage the suspect, question him and react accordingly.

Students training for careers in criminal justice at St. Johns River State College are gaining a competitive edge when it comes to cognitive processing and proficiency. Basic recruit cadets at the Criminal Justice Academy can now experience realistic scenarios using the Academy’s latest technology – a simulation training lab.

The lab houses a 360-degree, interactive simulation system for law enforcement training that combines the latest technologies to allow for customization of instruction. The videos are based on real-life situations, and the procedures and tactics the students utilize will affect the outcome of each scenario.

According to Tim Adams, SJR State’s Dean of Criminal Justice and Public Safety, scenario-based training is the most effective and practical way to train cadets and evaluate their knowledge and skills. “Simulation training exposes cadets to real-world situations in a learning environment,” Adams said. “The training lab was designed to enhance law enforcement training and accurately depict scenarios that involve use of force decision-making, including less-lethal options and de-escalation techniques to avoid the use of force, and crisis intervention skills.”

Instructor John Donlon said the simulator’s greatest advantage is teaching and enhancing each cadet’s decision-making skills. “While shooting ranges are utilized to help cadets shoot more accurately, this simulation lab is not about conditioning to shoot. The purpose for this simulator is to train them to understand the scenario at hand, learn to verbalize commands, apply de-escalation techniques, and make a good judgment. The student is looking for details using all of their senses and training,” Donlon said.

SJR State recruit Vincent Cheng said training with a new state of the art simulator has been a game changer. “Being able to interact with life-like scenarios in a 360-degree environment allows us to practice what we have learned in the classroom and accurately evaluate our performance,” said Cheng.

The simulator also offers an audio and visual feedback feature that allows instructors to break down and play back in slow motion what really happened in the split second they had to make their decision.

Located at the St. Augustine Campus, SJR State’s Criminal Justice Academy provides job-related training to prepare cadets for entry-level employment in the field. Upon completion of the certificate programs, cadets will be eligible to take the state certification exam. The certificates also provide credit hours that can be transferred to SJR State’s associate in science degree in criminal justice technology.

Applications for the day and night class beginning July 2024 are available through June 10. For additional information about SJR State’s Florida Law Enforcement Academy, call (904) 808-7490 or visit

Applications for the new Bachelor of Science In Criminal Justice, Applied Intelligence Studies and the Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies will be available late spring.