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Street Survival Seminar: Primer for a 'first timer'


In my role as Editor of PoliceOne, I first attended the Street Survival Seminar in Anaheim, Calif. back in September 2008.

In fact, day one of the seminar fell on September 11th and I’ll never forget how the Instructors altered the traditional start somewhat to remember the officers who died in the terror attacks of 9/11, as well as the officers from that area who had recently been killed in the line of duty.

The room, filled wall-to-wall with some 300 officers representing a half dozen local police agencies, was silent but for a few closely held sniffles. As a native New Yorker and lifelong patriot, I openly wept. This was just the beginning of two long days of learning, thinking, and feeling on an unprecedented scale.

I can say without equivocation that the impact of the seminar is at once immediate and indelible, and yet the experience is entertaining and enjoyable. The program is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Make no mistake, you watch good men die in the worst possible ways, and it is difficult and it is painful.

It is also worth it.

All the Street Survival Instructors have their own styles of speech, and each hold his or her audience in rapt attention when they deliver their life-saving messages.

Some of the instructors are almost theatrical at times, relieving the tension in the room with occasional one-liners, jokes, and a few well-placed insults (most of those hurled at the rookies). Still, each instructor finds subtle and not so subtle ways — “We curse a lot,” one instructor once told me — to infuse his time with more life lessons than you can possibly absorb in one sitting.

Measured in kilotons is the sheer force of Dave Smith’s retelling of the story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector and a medic who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Any person who claims they can listen to Smith’s talk on Doss and not be inspired to tears is made of stone — and not in a good way.

I’m signed up to attend the Seminar again this Spring, and if I could do it more frequently than that I would. I humbly submit to anyone willing to listen:

“You will not regret your attendance at the Street Survival Seminar.”

— PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie

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