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Competitive Events at ILEETA

Written by Ed Nowicki

Much more than just formal training programs happened during the 2008 ILEETA Conference, including five different competitive events. These events were: The ILEETA Cup; The Iron Cop Competition; The International Law Enforcement Driving Skills Competition; The Flatfoot Five 5K Fun Run/Walk; and, the World Cop Donut Eating Championship. All events were open to any sworn law enforcement officer.

The main purpose of the events is two-fold. First, the events measured an officer’s skills as they correlate to law enforcement duties. Secondly, the events raised funds that are completely donated to the ILEETA Trinity of Dedication. Terry Wollert, senior researcher with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA, who participated in two events, said, “I think all of the competitive events contributed to the success and camaraderie of the conference.”

The Trinity consists of ILEETA, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), and The ILEETA Scholarship Fund. Together, the Trinity is dedicated to “Honoring Life. Preventing Death.” Donations to the NLEOMF honors the lives of law enforcement officers who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives in the performance of their duties. The ILEETA Scholarship Fund provides full scholarships to the ILEETA Conference, which includes tuition, travel costs, meals and lodging.

The competitive events, plus a raffle and auction, raised almost $41,000, and there were no expenses or overhead costs deducted. The entire amount raised was donated and equally split between the NLEOMF and The ILEETA Scholarship Fund. A total of 14 law enforcement trainers, from the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, received additional training at the 2008 ILEETA Conference, as scholarship recipients. The 14 scholarships were based on the funds raised during 2007.

There were other benefits, in addition to testing law enforcement skills and raising money. Chris Cerino, training officer for the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, said, “I wanted to see how I stand next to the trainers of the world!” Others enjoyed the camaraderie and being exposed to new skills, which they may implement in various training programs.

The three “hard core” law enforcement skills competitions were The ILEETA Cup, The International Law Enforcement Driving Skills Competition, and The Iron Cop Competition. The ILEETA Cup was the only one of these three events that wasn’t new. The winner of each event received a firearm. SIG, Ruger, DSA and Ed Santos, an Idaho ILEETA member, donated firearms.

The ILEETA Cup shooting match featured live fire at a portable OSHA-approved Caswell two-position firing range housed in a trailer as well as a FATS electronic firearms simulator. Meggitt Training Systems sponsored the ILEETA Cup for the second year. All 72 competitors, including LAW and ORDER Editor Ed Sanow, used identical firearms, supplied ammunition and all other equipment. When the smoke cleared, the winner was Officer John Krupa of the Chicago Police Department, a top three finisher in 2007.

The Iron Cop Competition, sponsored by Polycom, was new for 2008. The specific Iron Cop stages were designed by James DiNaso of Police Kinesiology Co. in conjunction with Chuck Mader, an investigator with the Bloomingdale Police Department. This competition was designed to measure tactical shooting skills, fight endurance, reaction time, agility, handcuffing skills, tactical flexibility and movement skills. The cumulative top Iron Cop score was achieved by Officer Patrick St. John of the Tinley Park, IL Police Department.

The final “hard core” event was the International Law Enforcement Driving Skills Competition, sponsored by MPRI, an L-3 company. Because a driving track was a logistics nightmare, the entire competition consisted of driving with the use of an L-3 Driving Simulator. The competition was coordinated by ILEETA members, Captain Travis Yates of the Tulsa, OK Police Department, Sergeant Richard Maxwell of the Colts Neck, NJ Police Department, and representatives from L-3.

Many competitors—especially those new to using a driving simulator—said they felt that they were actually in a police vehicle during the competition. When the final competitor crossed the finish line, the winner was Billy Rajaram, an instructor for Canada Border Services Agency.

The two fun events associated with the 2008 ILEETA Conference were the tongue-in-cheek World Cop Donut Eating Championship, and the Flatfoot Five 5K Fun Run/Walk. The World Cop Donut eating championship has been a part of each ILEETA Conference since the very beginning. At one time, the donut competition was the only event held and the sole method of raising funds to donate to the NLEOMF and The ILEETA Scholarship Fund. 2008 celebrity donut judges included Craig Floyd, executive director of the NLEOMF, former ’50s and ’60s NY Yankee first baseman, Bill “Moose” Skowron, and former Chicago White Sox slugger and rookie of the year, Ron Kittle.

The competitive nature, along with the self-deprecating humor of cops competing in a donut-eating competition, garnered the most competitors and, by far, the most belly laughs. This event showed that police officers are real people with great senses of humor. Sponsored by IES Interactive Training Inc., 92 officers wore their special donut event T-shirts while gobbling down “police special” blue frosted donuts in family-fun suitable and heavily attended event. When the crumbs cleared, the winner was Sergeant Howie Sawyers of the Walworth County, WI Sheriff’s Office who downed 16 donuts in three minutes. That’s averaging one donut eaten in less than 12 seconds! No wonder Sawyers had a glazed look in his eyes.

The final event was the second year ILEETA Flatfoot Five 5K Fun Run/Walk, sponsored by CSX Transportation Police Department. Open to the general public, the event allowed the public to not run from the police, but to run with the police. A total of 76 individuals participate in the event. An improvised course was necessary due to the heavy rains in the area which flooded some of the scenic run through an adjacent forest preserve trail.

Any ILEETA member who participated in four of the five Trinity events was inducted into the select “Order of Trinity Knights.” The special title of “Trinity Knight” was bestowed on these individuals for their commitment to “Honoring Life. Preventing Death.” A special “Trinity Knight” patch and lapel pin were awarded to ILEETA members who took the extra effort to show their support. Sergeant Terry Richards of the Zion, IL Police Department said, that in additional to supporting two worth causes, “being a member of the Trinity Knights was a fun motivator.”

All of the events will be held in conjunction with the 2009 ILEETA Conference, which takes place on April 20-25, 2009, again at the Westin Hotel in Wheeling, IL. Chief Bill Harvey of the Lebanon, PA Police Department, who attended each ILEETA Conference, said, “The events are the best way to raise money and awareness, [It is] totally awesome that ILEETA embraces NLEOMF; this is the most logical philanthropy for this organization to partner up with.”

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, Jul 2008

Rating : 5.5


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