Following the Presentation of Colors, a rousing rendition of the National Anthem by Commander Paul Ruffolo of Bensonville (Ill.) PD, and some early opening remarks, ILEETA Executive Director (Emeritus) Ed Nowicki spoke of the seven words on which the organization is founded: “Wisdom and courage through knowledge and skill.” Nowicki then reminded the standing-room-only crowd that ILEETA is focused on providing three simple things:
1. the best possible training every year
2. as many member benefits as possible
3. a good line of member communication
“You are special people,” Nowicki said. “You go out there and train the people — you give ‘em all you can. You can’t give ‘em more than that. If you’ve ever had someone tell you they were glad they attended your training... If you’ve ever heard someone say, ‘It saved my bacon...’ If they told you that, there’s nothing in the world that can give you that feeling like when somebody tells you that.”
Nowicki then paraphrased General Douglas MacArthur said, who said (as he testified before a Congressional hearing after being fired by President Truman), that old soldiers never die, they just fade away. “Well, I want you guys to think about something. Now that I’m getting a little long in the tooth, that old law enforcement trainers and educators never die. They don’t fade away... they live on in the people they train, and the people they train, and the people they train, and it goes on and on.”
Nowicki concluded with some wisdom drawn from the side of a Celestial Seasonings Tea box. He read: “The person who lives the most is not the one with the most years, but with the richest experiences. And you people have those rich life expereiences. And you pass that along.”
Welcome to Wheeling
Next at the podium was Judy Abruscato, President of the Village of Wheeling, which has hosted ILEETA for the last several years. Just last night the Villiage declared this to be “law enforcement training week.”
“I came today to welcome you to Wheeling, but I’m overwhelmed by how you’ve welcomed us,” Abruscato said. “What I want to say to you is that we appreciate what you do for us — what you do to help us live in a safe environment. Thank you to you, and to your families. We want to make Wheeling your home. Thank you so much for he opportunity to welcome you here.”
Dale Stockton of Law Officer magazine then presented the Trainer of the Year Award to Dave Spaulding. Spaulding is due to arrive tomorrow, so he encouraged every single attendees to congratulate him on the award. “Let’s see if we can wear him out,” Stockton said.
All three prior winners of the Award — Ed Nowicki, Travis Yates, and Chief Jeff Chudwin — were among the many people in the audience who roared laughter at the suggestion.
“Congratulations Dave, from everyone at PoliceOne,” respectfully submitted by yours truly.
For thirty years, the Street Survival Seminar has provided hundreds of thousands of police officers with insights and ideas for staying safe on patrol. Held more than three dozen times every year, the Seminar has visited virtually every state in the Union — including Alaska and Hawaii — on at least one occasion. It’s been held in hundreds of cities in America — some locations, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, have become annual events. Other locations — like Cleveland, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Kansas City, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and San Diego — are visited once every two or three years.
“We have bee truly blessed to have this organization,” Hedden said of the Seminar, “that started so long ago, and continues to go around the country training officers. They continue to do good work. I want to congratulate you on 30 years.”
All the alumni and current instructors, Dave Smith, Betsy Brantner Smith, Jim Glennon, Gary T. Klugiewicz, and Dave Grossi joined Chuck Remsberg on stage in accepting the award, which is now on display in the Calibre Press and PoliceOne booths (#227 and #228) in the ILEETA Expo.
“Thank you very much,” said Chuck Remsberg. “Thanks also to ILEETA, which has certainly become the premier law enforcement training organization in the world. I’d also like to thank all the officers who have had near-death experiences and shared their stories with me and others involved in the seminar. We’ve been a conduit for the wisdom of many, many people who have taken the time and in some cases the painful memories to go back and share with us so we can share with you the lessons that they learned the hard way.”
The Street Survival Seminar is “one of the reasons I became a trainer,” Hedden told PoliceOne in the hallway following the opening ceremonies. “I attended Street Survival in the summer and then I went to the NRA Firearms training in the fall. Those two pivotal experiences in my life — that helped me get here and get to know people like Ed Nowicki.”
Then, after the brief Street Survival ceremony, he went on to give recognition for the half-century that NRA Law Enforcement Activities Division has been providing training to help keep police officers alive.
Glen Hoyer accepted the award from ILEETA, saying, “We partnered up with ILEETA since its inception, and we plan on being here forever. It’s a great organization, and we deeply appreciate the recognition.”
Rousing Keynote Address
Suzie Sawyer, Executive Director of C.O.P.S., closed out the opening ceremonies with a compelling keynote address — which was effectively a preview of the session she is slated to give later in the week. More than 9,000 people have taken the C.O.P.S. training “Traumas of Law Enforcement,” but that group of people who have been trained represents less than one percent of the men and women serving in law enforcement. Sawyer spoke of the many programs and events — ranging from summer camps for kids to retreats for spouses, siblings, and parents — and the needs those efforts seek to fulfill.
“For the good of the officers, but more importantly for their families, we have got to start to teach our officers about the importance of wills — the need to gather their personal and financial information,” Sawyer said. The need to let their spouses and families know their wishes when they die. And we must ensure that they understand the importance of having their beneficiaries and personal information up to date with the agency.”
When C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 there were three major concerns of survivors. Sawyer explained that there was a need to:
• teach law enforcement officers how to deliver sensitive and compassionate death notifications
• teach agencies that survivors needed emotional support from that agency to heal
• provide survivors with assistance on benefits, because the paperwork was, and is, astronomical
Following Sawyer’s rousing talk, Hedden dismissed the room and the officially opened the weeklong series of seminar sessions and camaraderie among the most elite law enforcement trainers and educators in the nation. Check back for more updates throughout the week and in the months that follow. If you’d like us to speak with someone in particular or explore a specific topic, send me an e-mail.