Recently, I attended my state chiefs of police association's annual training conference. There were outstanding trainers and nationally recognized lecturers; I was impressed with the variety of the curriculum. But, there was something missing. I notably missed several of my colleagues from other departments. Later I found out that they do not attend-- but why in today's world?
Required Only Needed
I began this inquiry later, and found out that there are several reasons that some were absent. One was that they get all of the necessary or state required training at the annual state-required recertification training. Fine, if you are a street cop, but if you are a chief; should you seek out management-focused training? How about the age-old excuse that this conference was not mandatory--so, why attend? Well, if you want to stay equal with your lowest patrol officer, then attend only their training. But, today's managers require more training than the basic law enforcement topics. No, I do not care how small your agency, leadership today requires constant honing.
Then I found out that a few only attended training in their area or at their local academy. I guess knowledge cannot be gained in another area code. Nothing against any local academy (I used to work at one), but oftentimes some of them cannot draw enough students to pay for some nationally renowned trainers. You have locals training locals, and that is okay, for at least you are gaining training. But, there is a vast law enforcement world out there, and different perspectives are required to obtain more global thinking.
Law Enforcement-Only Training...
There are some within law enforcement training circles that believe only law enforcement-related topics should be taught, refreshed, and that is it. This could be some from the "Kick and Shoot Club." If you can't whup it or shoot it; then it is not a problem. How wrong they are. If they skip the "Karate for Lunch Bunch" and have to attend a local chamber of commerce meeting, business lunch with local academics or even attend the business training seminars; they might just learn something. There is one problem I see with some executives and managerial types: they want to stay in "Policeland" and not venture out in the real world.
I was very fortunate, in that my former department was steeped in training with flair to the cutting edge. Managers could receive non-traditional police training from business seminars, local universities' open lectures and the like. The key here was there you were a business manager, and you should treat the department like a business, not a place of public employment where status quo reigns. Yes, there was resistance at first, but those who tried it liked it, and thrived, for they brought back solutions to problems. This business mindset stimulates critical thinking and gives solutions that we never had before. As I have written in prior columns, chiefs should network with their local chamber of commerce. What better place to start, for most chambers are always hosting seminars.
A recent publication that has been released "Good to Great" Policing: Application of Business Management Principles in the Public Sector is a sterling example of how today's police leadership can flourish under a businesslike approach. This book gives recent examples of successful chiefs and departments that have notably made a tremendous difference with mixing traditional police departments, new business applications and a lot of moxie. Do yourself a favor and obtain a copy today (see link below).
It's Okay to Go Outside
To my cohorts that continue to train within their little police-only world, this is like incestuous training; it will come to no greater good. I say to them, attend seminars and state level training for positions equal and higher than your current rank. If you desire to make rank within your current department, train at that rank, get their view of the problems, so you will bring solutions with you. If you have topped out in rank or are a chief, attend the bigger conferences as well. What may not be your problem today is being faced by other departments; obtain their ideas and responses on this.
This to me is like a sports competition; if you only played golf on one course and only played guys you could beat--you'd never improve. You have got to step up to higher competitive levels and see other hazards and traps that exist. Go ahead and try this; it will not hurt and you might even learn something. Forbid the idea that you might actually enjoy it.