About Us

The International Performance Resilience and Efficiency Program (“iPREP”) trains Use-of-Force trainers and first responders on methods that improve mental preparedness and physical readiness in high-stress situations. It is an evidence-based training program that enhances use-of-force decision-making and resilient responses to stress, through psychological and physiological control techniques utilized before, during, and after (in recovery) critical incidents.

The program is designed for police, military, and can be adapted for any other first response team that provides safety and security.

Empirical research studies conducted on this training program demonstrate that iPREP improves use-of-force decisions and resilient responses to stressful critical incidents. Resilient responses include improved emotional and physical control as demonstrated by less negative emotion, and more adaptive heart rate reactivity and stress hormone profiles.

Improved mental and physical control during stress has direct implications for enhanced safety for officers and the communities they serve.

Faculty Research and Efficacy


iPREP Faculty

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Judith P. Andersen, Ph.D – iPREP Co-Creator and Trainer

Professor Andersen is a health psychologist who received her Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine. She completed her post-doctoral studies at Cornell University. Prof. Andersen specializes in the psychophysiology of stress-related mental and physical health issues. She has more than a decade of experience working with populations exposed to severe and chronic stress, including combat soldiers and police. Currently, Professor Andersen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Affiliated Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is the director of the Health Adaptation Research on Trauma (HART) Lab at the University of Toronto.

Her ongoing research projects include measuring health and performance changes associated with resilience training among police and special forces teams in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Further, she is working to customize evidence-based resilience programs for different sectors of first responders.



Harri Gustasfberg

Harri Gustasfberg, MA – iPREP Co-Creator and Trainer

Mr. Gustasfberg has worked as a law enforcement officer since 1990. He is a veteran police officer for 25 years. His last post was chief inspector at the Police University College of Finland, 2014. He served as a member of the Finnish National Special Intervention Unit called KARHU for 22 years. During his years of service, Mr. Gustasfberg worked as a member of the SIU, then as an expert use of force instructor, operational commander, and K9 Instructor.

His current focus is professional mental and resilience coaching for employees at large corporations, athletes and first responders. He is also an author and personal coach.



Joseph P. Arpaia, MD

Dr. Arpaia, received his B.S in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology​ and his medical degree from the University of California, Irvine​. His medical speciality is psychiatry and he has maintained a private practice for over 20 years in Eugene, OR. Dr. Arpaia’s clinical and research speciality is focused on helping people deal more effectively with stress and stress-related conditions. He has developed a systematic and efficient method for alleviating the effects of stress and training people to increase their resilience under pressure.



Expert iPREP Trainers



Steven Poplawski, BA, (Ret. Senior Constable), Use of Force Instructor, iPREP Master Instructor

Steve Poplawski has over 20 years of policing experience, more than 10 of which have been as a certified Use of Force Instructor in an agency with over 2000 front line officers. He has also worked in many other areas of policing, including: criminal investigations, special projects, and frontline operations.  In addition to his work in policing, Steve has spent over a decade in the private sector delivering skills-based training. He holds current instructor certifications in all areas of Use of Force, with particular expertise in scenario-based learning and defensive tactics.


Don Back (Ret. Sergeant), Use of Force Instructor, iPREP Master Instructor

Don Back has over 31 years of experience in law enforcement with extensive experience in use of force training, legislation, criminal and sexual assault investigations. He has been a Provincially Certified Use of Force Instructor since 1998 and has instructed at the Ontario Police College, Canadian Police College. Most recently Don has been working as an iPREP Instructor in Ontario Canada, Iceland and the United States. Don is considered an expert at the Provincial level in Use of Force and holds current instructor certifications in all areas of Use of Force, with particular expertise in scenario based learning and design as well as defensive tactics.


Lissa Ruocco, iPREP Master Instructor

Lissa has over 23 years of experience in law enforcement, with 17 of those years in the tactical unit. Within the tactical unit, she has worked as a sniper, negotiator, repeal master, fitness appraiser, team leader and training officer. She is the first and only female sniper in all of Canada. A recipient of the 2021 Ontario Women in Law Enforcement’s Mentoring and Coaching Award, Lissa encourages both women and men to pursue a career in tactical policing.


Gene A. DiMaria (Ret. Chief), Use of Force Instructor, iPREP Master Instructor

Gene is the former Chief of Safety and Firearms Branch for the Probation and Pretrial Services Office, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.   Gene has over 25 years of Community Corrections experience. He served asa Probation Officer, Supervisor, Section Chief, and Branch Chief. He was instrumental in the development of the Federal Probation and Pretrial Academy where he served as a Use of Force Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Defensive Tactics Instructor, and scenario-based training instructor.


Samuli Mikkola, Senior Constable, Use of Force Instructor at the Police University College of Finland, iPREP Instructor

Samuli Mikkola has over 15 years of experience as a Firefighter/EMT, SWAT officer, sniper, police officer and medic.  Samuli has been a Use of Force instructor for over 12 years.



Sarah C. Scott, B.Sc., iPREP Academic Instructor

Sarah has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Mental Health Studies from the University of Toronto. She is currently a lab coordinator and editorial research assistant at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She has a keen interest in the physiology and psychology underlying stress and trauma. As an iPREP academic instructor, Sarah specializes in the biological mechanisms and psychological significance of the techniques learned in iPREP and assists in the delivery of evidence based police training.


Paula M. Di Nota, PhD (Neuroscience), iPREP Academic Instructor

Dr. Di Nota is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the HART Lab under the supervision of Dr. Andersen. She is currently investigating the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying training and complex motor learning in police populations, as well as the influence of occupational stress on the mental health and well-being of police and other first responders. Her dissertation research, conducted at York University, examined learning-induced changes to brain activity using behavioral, fMRI, and EEG measures.


Juha-Matti Huhta, MA (Education) Chief Inspector at the Police University College of Finland, Expert Use of Force Instructor, iPREP Instructor

Juha-Matti has been a police officer for over 20 years and has several years of experience in special units, including K-9 unit and Regional Special Response Team (RSRT). He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Tampere in the Faculty of Education. In close co-operation with researchers at the University of Toronto, Juha-Matti’s primary research and pedagogical interest focuses on understanding and developing situational awareness in policing, and using evidence-based approaches to police training whenever possible.


Bengt Arnetz

Bengt B. Arnetz, MD, PhD, MScEpi, MPH

Dr. Arnetz, is a Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. Website


Peter Collins

Peter Collins, MD, MCA, FRCP(C)

Dr. Collins is the Forensic Psychiatrist with the Criminal Behaviour Analysis Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police and an Associate Professor with the Division of Forensic Psychiatry, University of Toronto. Website



 Erica B. Thieman, Ph.D

Erica B. Thieman, Ph.D.
Principal Consultant in Agricultural Education
College and Career Readiness Division
Illinois State Board of Education

Dr. Thieman is a Principal Consultant at the Illinois State Board of Education. Her doctoral and academic tenure program of research focused on the recruitment and retention of effective educators in the P-12 and post-secondary settings through research, intervention studies, and collaboration with various stakeholders in educational systems. Currently, her work focuses on defining the context of stress and resilience for secondary science and agricultural science educators, preservice educators, and measurement of in-action performance following resilience training for police recruits .