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ILEETA Trains the Trainers!

Written by Ed Nowicki

Training dollars are reduced and travel is restricted, but you’d never know it if you were among the nearly 800 people who attended the 2009 ILEETA Conference. This is an increase from the 773 attendees who attended the 2008 ILEETA Conference. It appears that this ILEETA “Train the Trainer” conference can take a slightly modified line from the script of the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams”—“If you build it, they will come.” They did come. In addition to the U.S., attendees came from Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Holland, Australia, Norway and Hong Kong.

Harvey Hedden, ILEETA deputy executive director, served as the conference coordinator. Hedden said, “We tried to have the best of the best selected as instructors. We had many more proposals than we had openings, so we made some tough selection choices. Our loyalty, above all else, is to the members of ILEETA.”

As a professional association, all ILEETA members are treated as peers, whether a member is from a two-officer police department, a large police agency or one of the “big guys” who are nationally known and respected.

“The trainers that write the articles we all read in the best law enforcement magazines and write the training books we all buy come to ILEETA to get their training. That pretty much says it all about the quality of training at ILEETA. If the experts come to ILEETA to train and recharge their batteries, any serious trainer would try to attend the ILEETA Conference,” said Sergeant Rick Leach of the Cedarburg, WI Police.

The 2009 ILEETA Conference was organized to maximize the benefits to participants along the lines of formal learning and skill development, informal learning and incidental learning. Sergeant J.T. Kurtz of the Independence, OH Police said, “The networking is one of the best things about the conference. Sometimes you can actually learn more in some of the informal settings from members of your own peer group than in the classroom. It gives you a chance to have discussions about a myriad of topics and hear other opinions that can lead to new and innovative ways to do training at your agency.”
Most conference attendees were there to attend their selection of the 130 topics, which included 20 separate instructor or armorer certification courses. Up to 18 sessions were running simultaneously, which made for some tough decisions. A number of law enforcement agencies sent more than one attendee to the conference in order to maximize the benefit to the agency. Progressive agencies realize that having their instructors obtain additional knowledge and skill is beneficial. In turn, attendees can go back to their agencies and share what they learned with other instructors and officers.

The ILEETA vendor expo was at capacity with all 123 spots filled, along with a double-digit vendor waiting list. Some vendors were able to sell some of their wares, which allowed for some very good bargains. Attendees were also able to see and handle some new equipment. The vendors also appreciated the opportunity to pick the brains of the attendees.

Rick Guilbault, vice president of training for TASER International Inc. and ILEETA Conference vendor, said, “What a great opportunity to network with and learn from the top names in law enforcement training. There is no other event that brings together the number and caliber of trainers that ILEETA does.”

The “Trinity of Dedication Foundation” is a private foundation that is dedicated to raising money for three different groups. The trinity consists of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), Concerns Of Police Survivors (COPS), and the ILEETA Scholarship Fund. More than $30,000 was raised during the ILEETA Conference. The ILEETA Conference is the primary event that the foundation uses to raise money. A big plus is that all money raised is donated. There are no salaries or overhead expenses.

The events used to raise money included the Iron Cop Competition; the International Law Enforcement Driving Skills Competition; the ILEETA Cup Shooting Competition; the (tongue-in-cheek) World Cop Donut Eating Championship; the Flatfoot Five 5K Fun Run / Walk; a Meet and Greet the Authors (more than 20 authors were on hand); a silent auction that turned into a live auction; a raffle; and the sale of special logo items.

Some nice items were used for the various events that the foundation conducted. These included a total of 11 firearms, a full tuition, travel, meals and lodging for up to $4,000 for a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) course. Training equipment, a U.S. Marine NCO sword, holsters and much more were also donated to ILEETA for the purpose of raising money.

The ILEETA Opening Ceremony was meant to emphasize unity and why trainers are so important. A multi-agency honor guard consisting of officers from across the nation posted the colors and was followed up by the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A pair of bag-pipers played “Amazing Grace” to honor law enforcement’s fallen comrades.

Mark Fallon, assistant director of training for the FLETC in Glynco, GA, proved that a more meaningful opening speaker could not be found. Fallon stressed the importance of 21st-century training for 21st-century learning, including the challenges of training a Generation X and a Generation Y work force, as “baby boomers” retire in droves. His address was met with an overwhelming standing ovation. Fallon, an ILEETA member, also attended the conference as a first-time attendee.

“This was my first ILEETA Conference, and it was an impressive event,” Fallon said. “It was nice to see a conference dedicated solely to law enforcement instructors. It was an outstanding opportunity for professional development, increased collaboration and is surely a force multiplier for our profession. My only regret is that I did not take the opportunity to become an ILEETA member and attend conferences like this in the past. Well done!” Fallon said that he’d be back for future conferences and that more FLETC staff will be a part of ILEETA.

The 2010 ILEETA Conference is tentatively scheduled for the week following Easter. The conference will be held in the greater Chicago area for many reasons, which includes being in the center of the nation, less than a 2-hour drive from ILEETA’s Wisconsin headquarters and, most important, having a very experienced infrastructure in place. Please go to the ILEETA website at www.ileeta.org to find the exact dates and location of the 2010 ILEETA Conference.

Once you attend one ILEETA Conference, you may want to attend each year. Shannon Bohrer, range master with the State of Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions, said, “The conference was excellent. There is no comparison because no other conference offers so many programs, courses and certifications. If you are limited to one conference a year, ILEETA is the one to attend.”

Ed Nowicki, a nationally recognized use-of-force expert, is a part-time officer for the Twin Lakes (WI) Police Department. He presents use-of-force instructor certification courses across the nation and is the executive director of ILEETA. He can be reached at ed@ileeta.org.

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2009

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