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Hendon Publishing

Training Meets Competition

The true test of training is how well a properly trained law enforcement officer responds in real-life situations. Agencies want their officers to receive the best possible training in order to have the best possible officers. Currently, competitive events exist, most involving firearms or SWAT-related duties. Other competitive events are fun, but not job related. For example, some Police and Fire Games have competitive events, such as bowling and basketball, which are non-duty specific.

As a whole, it’s clear that law enforcement officers are competitive. Even more competitive are the trainers, who are “movers and shakers” within their respective agencies. Today’s top trainers want to do all they can to excel and impart valuable information and help officers develop the skills need to stay safe and carry out their duties as effectively as possible.

The number of arrests made, crime clearance rates and the amount of drugs seized can be attributed to tenacity and relevant training, and occasionally, even a little bit of luck. It seems that some of the “luckiest” officers are also the hardest working officers. These are the officers who are hungry for relevant training, which can give them an edge by allowing them to create their own luck.

“Agency trainers are the men and women who are tasked with the responsibility to see that officers are safe and that they perform their duties within acceptable standards,” said Harvey Hedden, deputy executive director of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). “Trainers need to do all they can to see that all officers receive the best training possible. There are differences in how officers are trained to perform specific tasks. What works well in California may be different than what works well in New York or Alabama.” So, the question is not, “What works well?” but “What works best in any environment?”

ILEETA is taking a lead role in evaluating a number of specific law enforcement skills through three new competitive events. These events are specially designed to test an officer’s ability in a number of skills that directly relate to law enforcement duties needed by almost any officer, anywhere. The events are held in conjunction with the 5th ILEETA Conference and Expo, held in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, IL on April 1-5, 2008.

In order to not detract from the ILEETA Conference itself, which includes more than 100 course offerings, along with 25 separate instructor or armorer certifications, ILEETA is holding all three of these events on the day immediately before the formal start of the ILEETA Conference.

On Monday, March 31, 2008, three events are held at the ILEETA Conference host hotel, the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling. “As an organization of trainers, it us up to us to take the lead role in doing all we can to further effective law enforcement training, so we used the brain trusts of some of our members to develop the ILEETA Cup, the Iron Cop Competition, and the International Law Enforcement Driving Competition,” Hedden said. These events may be an indicator of which trained officer skills “work best.”

Iron Cop

The Iron Cop competition was primarily designed by James DiNasso, the police performance director of Police Kinesiology Company (PKCO), after receiving input from a number of experienced law enforcement trainers. DiNasso has 16 years of experience as a sports performance coach, and he continues to train athletes at every level including elite professional athletes from the NFL, NBA and MLB. This meeting of the minds allows a professional kinesiologist and experienced law enforcement trainers the opportunity to develop the best physical skills needed by law enforcement officers along with a clear, consistent and fair manner to evaluate performance.

Iron Cop is a competition designed to measure an officer’s ability to perform job-related physical skills. It doesn’t matter if competitors are male or female or even retired. There are appropriate classes and divisions. Qualified instructors from PKCO conduct the Iron Cop physical events. Individual officers compete in events to assess their endurance, flexibility, speed, power, agility, and technical skills such as handcuffing and shooting. Qualified police skill instructors will also assess technical police skills. All the events are objectively scored in order to reduce the potential for bias or flawed judgment.

Law Enforcement Driving Skills

Next, how do you test officer’s driving skills, taking into the account of the logistics getting to and from a driving track and the tricky weather offered by the Ides of March in Chicago? Captain Travis Yates of the Tulsa, OK Police Department and Sergeant Richard Maxwell of the Colts Neck Township, NJ Police Department solved this potential problem. Their answer: conduct the driving indoors with an (electronic) L-3 Driving Simulator.

The International Law Enforcement Driving Competition is a unique opportunity for any sworn officer from anywhere in the world to display his skills behind the wheel of the L-3 Driving Simulator. The use of the L-3 Driving Simulator allows officers to compete in a standard course, where the conditions of the course are the same for each event participant. The scoring system is the same for all drivers, and the feedback is immediate.

Somehow, law enforcement driver training is an often neglected training topic, even though vehicle incidents are the leading cause of death and injuries to officers. The driving competition will bring an awareness of those dangers to all competitors.

Captain Yates said, “Law enforcement officers face a formidable foe each day they get in their vehicle(s). An increase of traffic in both the urban and rural environments combined with an increased demand for a police service has placed our officers at the highest of risks when they travel on the roadways. This competition will highlight those dangers while letting participants display defensive driving skills to minimize the risks they face.”

Putting a $25,000 patrol vehicle through the rigors of emergency operations also takes its toll on the vehicle. The L-3 simulator is programmed to operate and respond like a patrol vehicle does under realistic conditions, which can reduce vehicle maintenance costs. Behind-the-wheel training is still necessary, but the simulator reduces that training need and overall costs.


The ILEETA Cup competition is a two-stage competitive handgun event that uses two separate portable handgun-training systems. Detroit Armor / Meggitt Defense Systems will bring its Road Range Trailer for the “live-fire” portion of this event. The trailer is a fully equipped range inside of a traditional trailer used to move cargo. The range meets OSHA specifications for air filtering and sound protection. The trailer is ballistic safe on the top, bottom and sides as well as containing a Reclining GranTrap downrange.

FATS will bring one of its firearms simulators for use with the second stage of the ILEETA Cup competition. The ILEETA Cup, now in its second year, is the first international law enforcement handgun competition that uses a combination of “live-fire” and firearms simulators. All firearms, ammunition, duty-related gear and protective equipment will be furnished to all competitors.

Dennis Carroll, recently retired lieutenant with the Schaumburg, IL Police Department is the coordinator for the ILEETA Cup. Carroll said, “This is a great opportunity for officers of all ranks from across the country and internationally to compete while attending the 2008 ILEETA Conference. Any sworn officer or retired officer can compete.”

Other Events

A number of other events are being held during the days of the ILEETA Conference. On Wednesday, April 2, 2008, a “Meet and Greet the Authors” will take place from noon to 2 p.m. This is an opportunity for crime, law enforcement, and training book authors to meet with the members and to sell their books at a discount to the members. This event brought together 14 authors during the 2007 ILEETA Conference and was a big success.

ILEETA will also hold the tongue-in-cheek and fun-filled “World Cop Donut Eating Championship” on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 7 p.m. Held during each ILEETA conference, this is an opportunity for law enforcement officers to show the public that they are real men and women with great senses of humor.

Raffle tickets are sold for three firearms, a DVD/TV combo and other items, with the winners announced at noon on Friday, April 4, 2008. Members can enter silent bids on various items from getaway weekends at resort hotels to sports collectibles, TV Cop memorabilia, and a lots of other items. These items are on display during all days of the 2008 ILEETA Conference. On Friday, April 4, 2008, at noon, the silent auction will turn into a “live” auction, with the items going to the highest bidder.

Finally, at noon on Saturday, April 5, 2008, the ILEETA Flatfoot Five 5K (3.1-mile) Fun Run/Walk will happen. Open to law enforcement and everyone else. The public is told, “Don’t run from the cops: run with the cops!”


All events are part of ILEETA’s “Trinity of Dedication.” The Trinity is a three-part connection to ILEETA, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), and the ILEETA Scholarship Fund. The Trinity uses ILEETA for the mission of, “Honoring life and preventing death.” All money raised through all events by ILEETA is then evenly split between the NLEOMF and the ILEETA Scholarship Fund.

The NLEOMF honors the lives of officers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The ILEETA Scholarship Fund prevents deaths of additional officers by providing scholarships to law enforcement trainers to attend the ILEETA Conference. Scholarships are based on need, numbers of officers trained each year and other related criteria. Getting trainers trained maximizes the “preventing death” goal of the Trinity.

A total of just under $20,000 was raised during the 2007 ILEETA Conference through the events. A check for $10,000 was presented to NLEOMF Executive Director Craig Floyd during 2007’s National Police Week. ILEETA member Tom Engelmann, chief of Cazenovia College (NY) Department of Public Safety, presented the check on behalf of ILEETA. Engelmann attends the NLEOMF ceremony each year at his own expense.

The entry fee for most events is $15, which includes a cool event T-shirt for most events. These events allow officers to test their skills, develop camaraderie and have fun. One donut championship contestant said, “I’d even wear a clown costume while competing if it helps the ‘honor life and prevent death’ goals of the Trinity by raising more money.”

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

Published in Law and Order, Mar 2008

Rating : 5.5

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