Getting The Confession For Law Enforcement: SIMmersion's CEO Pours a Lifetime of Experience into Criminal Investigation Simulation

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An interactive investigative interview simulation and training software has been developed by Dr. Dale Olsen, CEO and founder of SIMmersion LLC. The Jennifer Lerner Simulation and Training system is currently for sale for law enforcement, security, and intelligence professionals. Olsen used his lifetime of experience with input from top law enforcement professionals in developing the simulation. It was designe to be the most comprehensive and advanced software of its kind.

"Jennifer Lerner" reacts to an interview question. A help coach, lower right, provides software users with feedback.

My goals in developing this training system were to accelerate the learning, provide essential skill-building practice, and help learners retain their skills.

Part businessman, statistician, author, and inventor, Dr. Dale Olsen, CEO and founder of SIMmersion LLC, has made a career of conceiving technology beyond what had previously been possible. In 1997, while at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Olsen created his first human simulation for the FBI to train new special agents to conduct investigative interviews. It was distributed by the FBI to all federal law enforcement organizations and to domestic and international police organizations. After numerous requests from law enforcement agencies over the years, Olsen decided to create the most advanced human simulation ever developed to train law enforcement, security, and intelligence community professionals how to accurately assess a suspect's guilt and how to employ the most effective techniques to legally garner a confession. This effort has culminated in SIMmersion's release of the Investigative Interview with Jennifer Lerner Simulation and Training System, which is currently for sale.

"Dale Olsen's simulation training draws on the real world experience of top interrogators who have a track record of thousands of successfully resolved cases," says Edward I. Gelb, former president of the American Polygraph Association. "His unique approach to training makes learning a positive experience and results in 'getting that confession' which is the bottom line."

The simulation software user first sees e-learning materials, including interactive investigative interview manuals and a case history. The user then begins the interview with Jennifer Lerner at her workplace, where sensitive files are missing and their loss could have catastrophic effects on the organization. Users must gain Jennifer's trust, get her thoughts on the theft, be attentive to nonverbal cues and signs of deception, and determine if she took the files. If Jennifer is guilty, they must identify her motive and use it to solicit a confession. Users can use a microphone or click selections to choose nearly anything to say to Jennifer.

Jennifer is played by nationally-known actress Marni Penning, and her characterization changes every time the simulation is played: sometimes she took the files and sometimes she is innocent. Guilty versions of Jennifer have different motives for having taken the files. Additionally, her mood will change based on the user's rapport-building capability.

Users can receive instant feedback from a help coach, and they are scored at the end of the interview, with emphasis on getting a verifiable confession from Jennifer is she is guilty. With repeated practice, they will identify truthful behaviors and signs of deception more quickly and be able to translate these skills to real-life interviews.

"We know that interview skills are difficult to learn and perish rapidly," Olsen commented on the need for an engaging training system. "My goals in developing this training system were to accelerate the learning, provide essential skill-building practice, and help learners retain their skills."

SIMmersion LLC's Investigative Interview with Jennifer Lerner Simulation and training system is currently available for purchase by law enforcement and security organizations. For purchase information, visit SIMmersion's product page or call 443-283-2555.

SIMmersion LLC creates exceptionally realistic interactive simulations that help learners build, practice, and retain communication skills. Simulations have been created for government, health care, and commercial training audiences and include topics such as performance counseling, courtroom testimony, border interviews, drug and alcohol screening, performance counseling, military recruiting, and cultural sensitivity training. SIMmersion simulations allow users to conduct face-to-face conversations with simulated characters. Professional actors are used to create life-like, challenging situations. Each simulated character has memory and an advanced emotional model that allows the character to respond to the user's statements as a real person would. The result is a nearly free-form conversation that is different each time the simulation is used. Users receive feedback through the non-verbal cues of an on-screen coach, quantitative scoring at the end of each interaction, and instant replay features. SIMmersion LLC is a spin-off of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

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Sean Kobrin
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