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ILEETA “The Best Game in Town”

I just got back from Wheeling, Illinois (a very nice suburb of Chicago) after instructing at and attending the 2012 ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association) Conference last week and although I’m tired from a very busy week, my batteries are fully recharged.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, last year was not a good year for law enforcement.  According to the Officer Down Memorial Page 166 officers were killed in the line of duty for 2011.  This is the largest number of officers killed in the past ten years.  34 officers died in duty related traffic accidents while 67 were gunned down.  While some would intimate that violent crime is down, at a time when agencies are laying off or not hiring to replace retiring officers, crime against police officers in certainly not down.  How do we reverse this trend?  Train like our lives depends on it because my Brothers and Sisters, they do.

Training is at the forefront of officers winning violent encounters on the street as well as controlling their patrol vehicles during pursuits and emergency response driving.  So where can an officer or trainer get some of the best training available?  At ILEETA, that’s where.

With everything from classroom programs, armorer certification schools, to live-fire firearms training even hands-on suspect control programs, the ILEETA Conference has much to offer the line officer, supervisor or trainer.

This year I attended a vast array of programs: Dave Spaulding’s “Enhancing the Combative Pistol”; Distance Learning Applications for LE by Guy Rossi; John Bostain from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (LE Trainer of the year by the way) gave an excellent presentation on “When the Smoke Clears: Preparing Officers for the Aftermath of a Shooting”; “Coach” Bob Lindsey retired from the New Orleans PD presented “Always the Warrior at Every Age” which dealt with the aging trainer – what to expect and how to continue to make a contribution; Lisa Wimberger gave an excellent presentation on “Emotional Warrior Training: Combating Stress” which gave us as students two very effective ways to reduce our stress.  Lisa led us through a guided imagery exercise which was very effective; “Advancing Firearms Training on a Limited Budget” was a program presented by first time ILEETA instructor Robert Hauger a Ranger from the Arkansas State Park.  Robert showed how he has manufactured moving targets systems and wireless robot style targets from available low cost materials (wish I had a tinkerer like Robert in my agency); Chief Jeff Chudwin from Olympia Fields (IL) Police Department presented “Police Use of Force / Training – Preparation” which combined the tactical and legal applications of force for police (as only Jeff can based on his background as an attorney and a tactical team leader); Chuck Humes, a sergeant with the Toledo Police Department and owner/instructor for A.P.P.L.E. P.I.T.T. LLC, gave a multi-media presentation on “Critical Combative Concepts: Why Martial Arts Based DT Systems Continue to Fail Us” which was outstanding; Richard Fairburn of the Illinois State Police presented and informative program “Ambush: Preparing Your Officers for the #1 Killer.”  Richard’s research and thoughts on ambushes against LE were enlightening and informative.  Fairburn makes a strong case for not continuing to send victims into the kill zone of the ambusher; Don Alwes from the National Tactical Officers Association presented “Swarming, Flash Mobs & the OODA Loop”.

Courses are either one hour and 45 minutes in length (which are scheduled twice in the week) or four hour programs.  There are eight hour training blocks but these are usually certification courses.  The sad thing about the ILEETA Conference is that because there are so many good programs offered (over 150 in the week) you usually miss out on attending something based on scheduling conflicts.

Also of note were excellent courses I missed, most are friends I’ve met at ILEETA as well: Randy Murphy and Darrel Ross presented, “Human Factors Research and Use of Force Liability”; Tim Janowick from the Mount Pleasant (IL) PD instructed “The Trainer, Leadership, and Organizational Culture”; Brian Hill from the Federal Reserve Police Department gave a presentation on “Developing Exceptional Training Staff”; “The Winning Mind: Secrets of Survival Thinking” was the course taught by Dave Grossi who taught the Street Survival program for Calibre Press for many years and now runs Grossi Consulting; Marshall Schmitt whom I’ve known for many years taught “Real World Training – Patrol Rifle”; two of the finest legal minds available to LE, Laura Scarry and Michael Brave both presented this yearMy own contribution to the conference was a program in the instructor development category titled, “The Path of the Warrior Mentor.”  Scanning the program I’m saddened to think I couldn’t attend these programs as well as so many excellent courses I’ve not mentioned.

Live-fire firearms courses were given by Chris Cerino of CCTG (Chris Cerino Training Group) – “Diagnosing Shooters”; Todd Fletcher (Bend, OR P.D.) taught “Coaching the Fundamentals: It’s the Trigger!”.  Additional live-fire programs were taught by: Ben Kurata (Reduced Light Firearms Instructor Development; John Farnam (Patrol Rifle Instructor Development); Bank Miller (Shooting on Steel Instructor Development); (Low-light Survival Course Development) by Ed Santos and several others.

My own contributions to this year’s schedule was a course in the instructor development category I titled “The Path of the Warrior Mentor” about the path we take as instructors, how important modeling and mentoring are and sadly the roadblocks or conflicts we encounter along our path.  In addition I had the honor of sitting on the dais as a panel member in the “Deadly Force Expert Panel” chaired by Massad Ayoob. 

What makes the ILEETA Conference different from many training programs unique is that it is a peer organization.  Although instructors may be presenting it is understood that every student brings much to the table based on his or her experiences and training.  All opinions are respected or the instructor will be asked to leave.

Below 100

Below 100 was started based on a conversation I was party to during dinner two years ago at ILEETA.  The concept was that we cannot ever expect line of duty deaths to zero based on the nature of our work.  A reasonable and achievable goal, however, is to reduce our deaths to ‘below 100.’  Distilled down to “The Five Tenets” – Wear your seatbelt, Wear your vest, Watch your speed, WIN – What’s Important Now?, and Remember: Complacency Kills! the program has been presented across the country.  The Below 100 program was well instructed by Travis Yates of the Tulsa Police Department and Brian Willis from Winning Mind Training. 

It is my belief that the Below 100 message is simple and should be advocated far and wide throughout LE to reduce preventable deaths of both civilians and officers.  I’m on board and so should you be.  Let us do whatever we can to reduce line of duty deaths to “Below 100.”

I’ve made the argument for why I attended this year’s ILEETA Conference and have done so over the past eight or so years.  I’ll be there in Wheeling, Illinois next year for the 10thAnniversary ILEETA Conference if at all possible.  If you’re not a member, you should join and if you can you should attend the training conference.  It is the best LE training event in town, bar none.


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About The Author:

Kevin Davis is a full-time officer assigned to the training bureau where he specializes in use of force, firearms and tactical training. With over 23 years in law enforcement, his previous experience includes patrol, corrections, narcotics and he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency's SWAT team with over 500 call-outs in tactical operations.