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The 2006 ILEETA Conference, Part 1

Written by Ed Nowicki

Is there a training event where law enforcement trainers can get certified as instructors in more than 27 separate topics? How about where experienced trainers can learn to be even better trainers? Or where law enforcement trainers can interact with the best trainers in the world? The answer is a resounding “Yes” as evidence by the 2006 ILEETA Conference, which was held in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, IL on April 25-29.

So, what are the attendees of the 2006 ILEETA Conference saying? Lieutenant Dave Gerber, training division coordinator with the Walworth County, WI Sheriff’s Office, responded, “I have been to other training conferences, and the ILEETA Conference is by far above the rest. Not only does ILEETA have high quality training sessions from A-Z, but they also stress networking, which has gone to the wayside for too many years. The networking opportunities are international as ILEETA has trainers in attendance from all around the world. The relationships and shared training networks we build will only make us stronger as a profession.”

The 2006 conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association blended classroom learning and hands-on skill that was totally focused on those who instruct the law enforcement community. The nine hosting law enforcement agencies were the Arlington Heights Police Department; the Chicago Police Department; the Hoffman Estates Police Department; the Niles Police Department; the Schaumburg Police Department; the Rolling Meadows Police Department; the Chicago Office of the FBI; the Mount Prospect Police Department; and the Chicago Office of the DEA.

The multi-agency hosting enhanced credibility of the conference and displayed a sense of unity and cooperation. The need for law enforcement cooperation, not competition, is more of an accepted practice since Sept. 11, 2001. The sharing of training resources is one critical area of cooperation that will save lives and make for safer communities.

ILEETA requested that officers wear their uniforms to the opening ceremony. It was an emotional sight to see officers in uniform from the United Kingdom, Canadian agencies, and from agencies across the United States, including the NYPD, Chicago P.D., and departments all the way from Rhode Island, Florida, Oregon and Georgia. A kilt-wearing bagpiper and an area multi-agency honor guard kicked off the event along with classically trained singer and ILEETA member Paul Ruffolo, who sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” Newly appointed Deputy Director Richard Sanders of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided and energetic an emotional account of how there are times when our badges must “melt together” as we work and train together.

Due to space limitations at the ILEETA Conference, registrations were turned away at the 600 maximum enrollments, even though there were actually 603 attendees. The ILEETA Vendor Expo took place in a filled hall during the first 1½ days, with a waiting list of 34 vendors. ILEETA intends to keep its focus as a training conference that has a limited number of vendors, instead of a vendor trade show that has some training programs.

Even though the focus of ILEETA is training, the vendor expo was held April 25 from 10 am to 6 pm and April 26 from 8 am to noon. This expo featured the latest technology available to law enforcement, which included many high-tech weapons and training equipment. Demonstrations were held to show how law enforcement is served. The newest batons, pepper sprays, holsters, weapons, firearms simulators and more were prominently displayed.

The trainers had the ability to meet face to face with representatives from various manufacturers. Some vendors saw this as an opportunity to sell training equipment directly to the participants, and deals were struck on the spot. For example, discounted training mats from Crown Gym Mats were made available, and a number of officers took advantage of that offer.

Participants at the ILEETA Conference must be instructors to qualify for ILEETA membership and attend the ILEETA Conference. There are no associate or student ILEETA members either—just instructors. Because one goal of ILEETA is to share information with the members, the association is careful who is allowed into its membership ranks.

More than 1,000 files, including 600 PowerPoint programs, extensive reports, lesson plans, video clips, royalty-free photos, position papers and more are available on the ILEETA Web site for free “member only” downloading, so membership security is an important consideration. Anyone trying to join ILEETA from outside a law enforcement agency is specially screened before he is accepted.

There was much more offered beyond the formal topics at the ILEETA conference. ILEETA’s leadership encouraged incidental and informal learning that takes place outside of the classroom. Instructors could be seen discussing various training issues over the complimentary coffee, donuts and fresh fruit each morning and in the hotel’s hallways each night.

A hospitality room was also open each night to encourage conference participants to network, re-establish old friendships and to make new friends. Sergeant Scott Raynor of the Runnemede, NJ Police Department, stated, “This conference was like visiting the hall of fame and being taught by the masters! All the instructors were very professional and took the time during to week to speak to you one on one.”

More on the ILEETA conference will be in next month’s issue.

Ed Nowicki, is a nationally recognized use-of-force expert and a part-time police officer for the Twin Lakes, WI Police Department. He is also the executive director of ILEETA and can be reached at ed@ileeta.org.

Published in Law and Order, Aug 2006

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