Incorporation of heart rate variability into police tactical group small unit tactics selection

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


Objective: Police tactical group (PTG) occupational requirements are known to expose officers to high levels of physical, mental, and emotional stressors. As such, selection courses must ensure candidates are not only physically, but mentally and emotionally competent. To assess personnel for suitability likewise requires a holistic approach; wearable technologies may provide organizational decision makers additional information. Heart Rate Variability (HRV), one metric obtainable from wearable technology, has been increasingly utilized as a stress biosignal, but the value of HRV data in the context of specialist police selection remains limited. Hypothesis: Therefore, the hypothesis of this study was: can HRV analysis effectively discriminate between high and low performing candidates attending PTG selection? Methods: This study was a prospective cross-sectional study of three male PTG candidates completing a highly demanding selection course. HR and HRV were measured from 1300 – 1800 on a single day of tactical maneuver training. HRV was analysed as follows: R to R interval (RRI) length, root-mean-square of successive RRI differences (RMSSD), percentage of adjacent RR intervals varying by at least 50ms (pRR50), nonlinear short-term variability (SD1), and nonlinear long-term variability (SD2).Data: Measures of central tendency were generated; the maximum, minimum, mean, and standard deviation were reported for each HRV measure and visualized with a box plot. Results: Data from one participant appeared to skew results; the maximum values for mean RRI (Max: 709ms, Min: 580ms, Mean: 632.67±67.68ms), RMSSD (Max value: 42.3ms, Min value: 18.8ms, Mean: 26.8±13.43ms), pRR50 (Max value: 12.47%, Min value: 1.98%, Mean: 5.76±5.82%), SD1 (Max value: 29.9ms, Min value: 13.3ms, Mean: 18.93±9.50ms), and SD2 (Max value: 61.1ms, Min value: 37.5ms, Mean: 49.87±11.84ms) all occurred in the same participant. That participant also held the lowest maximum HR (138bpm), lowest mean HR (85bpm) and was the highest performer as rated by unit leadership. Conclusions: Given the potential discriminatory capacity of HRV in this context, HRV may be a valuable objective metric to support PTG candidate selection by providing objective measurements of holistic stress response.
Original languageEnglish
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2023
EventAmerican Physiology Summit - Long Beach, United States
Duration: 20 Apr 202323 Apr 2023


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