By Dave Standen
Patrolman, Springfield Police Department, MA
Visit Strike Tactical Solutions
This past May, the City of Lowell, Massachusetts opened its arms to trainers from around the world for the 27th Annual International Monadnock® Instructor Seminar. What attendees found was a friendly city, a first-rate hotel and conference center, and a seminar that continues to prove it is one of the premier hands-on training events in the country.
The City of Lowell proved to be an ideal location for the Monadnock Seminar, which was previously held in Ohio and Louisiana. With Boston’s Logan International Airport less than 30 minutes away, the hotel was easily accessible to both international and national flights. The small-city environment provided dozens of shops, restaurants and pubs within walking distance from the hotel. But it was the support of Lowell Police Department, working in conjunction with a number of other departments from Massachusetts, which provided the key support necessary to make a seminar of this size and caliber work successfully.
The first three-and-a-half days of the seminar were designated to baton training, with tracks offered in the PR-24®/Control Device or the Expandable Straight Baton. Participants could also choose to continue the seminar for one or two more days. Offerings included the two-day Monadnock Defensive Tactics System (MDTS) program or the one-day Defense Technology Oleoresin Capsicum Instructor course. This year, the majority of participants chose to attend the full five-and-a-half days of baton and hands-on training.
To facilitate learning, participants were classified by their experience level and teamed with an International Instructor who trained them at that level. Instructor-Trainers (IT) and those seeking to be re-certified as IT’s were also placed in groups where their skill level would be elevated and where they would learn more about teaching instructor level classes. “The seminar was incredible,” said Lt. Michael Wynn of the Pittsfield (MA) Police Department, a Monadnock Senior Instructor-Trainer, who has attended six international seminars. “As an Instructor-Trainer, we didn’t just do drills. We learned how teach the drill and then taught them ourselves. I can’t believe how much I still get out of it.”
Upon arrival, participants were introduced to their counterparts from around the world. Instructors from the United States and Canada met practitioners from Singapore and Malaysia. Switzerland sent nearly a dozen instructors, and Portugal, Spain and England were also represented.
International Instructor Robert Dyer of the Lowell Police Department and Lowell Police Superintendent Kenneth LaVallee opened the seminar by welcoming the participants to Lowell. This was followed with an offer of remembrance for all of the Monadnock instructors who had passed. Program Manager Terry Smith closed the opening ceremonies by introducing the Monadnock Advisory Board and recognizing all of the countries and states represented.
After the opening ceremony, the participants joined their assigned groups and met with the staff instructors. This year’s staff was comprised of some of the most talented instructors in the world, who brought their teaching skills and street experience along with their knowledge of baton and arrest skills. The staff included Switzerland’s Patrick Moynat, who taught practical arrest skills, connecting baton and empty-hand skills. Another instructor was Florida’s Kat Kelley, who earned rave reviews for her “Women Teaching Men, Men Teaching Women” class, which ran several times during the seminar.
The seminar’s groups were small to generate constant one-on-one interaction, which helped create a family atmosphere. “The positive atmosphere and camaraderie generated upon arrival continues throughout the week,” said Sgt. Andy Barton of the Bristol (CT) Police Department. “As attendees get to know the instructors and each other, the learning process gets stronger. All those that train should experience this at least once.”
This year’s participants were exposed to many innovative and realistic methods of teaching arrest skills and drills, moving beyond teaching individual skills and toward teaching officers to “make the arrest” using baton and empty-hand skills. Participants were taught methods to connect the blocks, strikes and control tactics, and how to bring the situation to a real street conclusion where the subject is handcuffed.
“Monadnock's seminar was a wonderful learning and growing experience” said Annik Neufeld, Senior Use of Force Instructor for the Montreal, Canada Police Department. “The heart-felt qualities of the international instructors and the dedication of the officers in my group created an energy momentum that kept me going during my six days of training. It enabled me to better myself as a technician, a use-of-force instructor, a police officer and as a student of life. In the process, I created new kinships through laughter, sweat and hard work. And a bit of pain too!”
Groups were also shown how to run realistic drills using a wide range of training equipment. Captain Michael Zarro of the Spottswood (NJ) Police Department and Giorgio Albertini of the Ticino Police Department in Switzerland each donned Monadnock Training Suits and let groups run through arrest scenarios in order to show how to make drills realistic and safe.
The seminar continued with the two-day MDTS Instructor program and the one-day OC Instructor course. Those in the MDTS track learned how to use this program to enhance the Control Device/PR-24 and MEB programs. They learned how to combine these skills with the baton programs and a simple, yet effective, way to handcuff a subject. Those in the OC Instructor Course were trained how to use OC within the arrest process.
Optional directed studies classes also provided valuable information. Some of the 30 classes included Jerry Konrad and Paul McManus’s “Edged Weapon and Spontaneous Knife Defense” class and Arthur Sapp’s “Drills, Drills, Drills.” Participants could learn about “Presentation Strategies” from Larry Smith and “Ground Fighting and the Baton” with Chuck Martin. Those that took advantage of the directed studies classes trained for nearly 12 hours a day.
But the fun wasn’t restricted just to training. A number of social events took place, including an outing to Fenway Park and shopping trips. But the big event of the week was the second annual Monadnock Seminar Pub Crawl. Lead by the Worcester (MA) Police Department Pipe and Drum Corps, and with traffic control from the Lowell Police Department Motorcycle Unit, the group the traveled to four locations throughout historic Lowell for a fun night of celebration.
The 28th Annual International Monadnock Instructor Seminar will be held September 7 -11, 2008 in Lowell, MA.