As I return from the 2009 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association International Conference in Wheeling, Illinois many thoughts come to mind. It is the sixth annual conference and the third consecutive one that I have attended.
I knew very little about the ILEETA Conference in 2006 when my FBI National Academy roommate, Butler University Assistant Chief Andy Ryan, convinced me to attend. What I saw in that first conference has continued to this day. Law enforcement trainers from across the world dedicated 100% to improving the training in their agency and totally committed to giving their fellow officers the safest environment possible through that training.
There are a lot of conferences each year that cater to trainers but there is simply something about this annual conference in a small suburb of Chicago that is special. The feelings I have at ILEETA when I leave surpass any other conference that I have attended and likely will attend.
I am in awe of the dedication of the hundreds of law enforcement professionals that show up each year. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and end twelve hours later. Not only are these classes packed full of these consummate professionals but in between classes the halls are busy with the exchange of information and the passion for training overflows everywhere. It is not uncommon to get stopped in the halls by someone you don’t know and leave several minutes later with great training ideas and a new friend.
Personally, being a part of ILEETA and getting to know the members has been very special. My father was a police officer for 27 years and I spent many hours growing up listening to his stories and reading what he read. Some of the most prolific pioneers in law enforcement training that I read as a kid, I get to see and hear at the annual ILEETA Conference. Dave Smith aka “Buck Savage”, Dave Young, Ed Nowicki and Dave Spaulding are just a few of those trainers that I grew up idolizing and they are doing a remarkable job of continuing their efforts in officer safety training while mentoring the next generation of instructors to our profession.
One thing that really hit home this year is the service these long term trainers are giving back to our profession. The Executive Director of ILEETA, Ed Nowicki, stated that he had “been in the trenches” for many years and it is now time to mentor other trainers. I watched in amazement as trainers with decades of experience literally gave anyone that asked anything they had. Whether it was an entire presentation, video or simply their time, that is why ILEETA is as good as it gets.
Since being in law enforcement, I have followed the majority of periodicals, magazines and trends over the last decade. The ILEETA Conference is like a who’s who of the voice of our profession. Instructors and writers such as Brian McKenna, Jeff Chudwin, Tony Blauer, Betsy Brantner Smith, Gary Klugiewicz, Jim Glennon, John Bostain and Laura Scarry are just a small sample of those training at the conference. I correlate what I see each year at ILEETA to a professional sports all-star game. In our profession, it is our annual all-star game and everyone there belongs on the team.
One thing is clear: Everyone that attends learns something and they have something to teach others. You can say I am sort of a geek when it comes to studying presentation styles and deliveries. I like to study and evaluate what makes a good presentation and what makes a bad one. ILEETA makes it easy to determine what a good one is.
ILEETA Conference Trainers knew their crowd and catered to what that crowd needed and wanted. I observed trainers that were humble, enthusiastic, motivated and did what Ed Nowicki brags about each year at the annual conference, they left their ego at the door. When the best in any profession are present, you sort of expect to run into cliques or egos. You won’t find that at ILEETA.
ILEETA Conference Trainers were prepared, detailed and descriptive. I respect trainers that are gracious enough to refer to other trainers and those that have helped them and that occurred in every class I attended. Great trainers never stop learning and at ILEETA I saw nothing but great trainers.
In closing I want to relay what Dave Smith lamented in his class titled Training For The Risk Thermostat.
Successful trainers have a willingness to do three things:
They have a willingness to train.
They have a willingness to stay abreast of new information and techniques.
They have a willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
I am privileged to be a part of ILEETA and proud to associate myself with trainers that have that “willingness”.