I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and we were lamenting (as usual) about something or other. That day’s topic happened to be “where are all the new, young police trainers with fresh ideas and original concepts?” I pondered the issue long after we’d hung up the phone and I began to ask myself “hey, where are all the new, young female trainers?” After all, sworn law enforcement is approximately 12% female, with more women in corrections and in the federal ranks than ever before. Most women are good communicators, they like to share ideas and they are drawn to helping people, so it would stand to reason that we’d be seeing more female trainers and speakers out there.
Don’t get me wrong, I meet a few women trainers in virtually every class I teach; from field training officers to firearms instructors. But most of these terrific women don’t train outside of their local area. I’m one of many people in the training industry who would like to see more women out there. Whether you’re thinking about becoming an FTO, an academy instructor, or you’re a seasoned trainer who wants to take it to the next level, here are a few things to think about:
Look in the mirror. If you’ve never been involved in training before, make your very first student the one you see in the mirror. What would you like to learn more about? What else do you wish you’d been taught in the academy? What do you think others in this profession need to know? One of my partners, Barb Harris, and I started teaching “Career and Officer Survival for Dispatchers” after we realized that police dispatchers were truly the “forgotten first responders” who often didn’t receive much training beyond the basics. This revelation motivated us to combine forces, study the problem and come up with a classroom solution. Even though I’m a former dispatcher, during that process I learned so much more about the dispatch function and gained an even greater respect for those men and women in the communications center. Thanks to the response from the industry, speaking to dispatchers has now become one of my passions.
What are you interested in sharing with others? Do you have a message that may help motivate or inspire others? That’s how many trainers and speakers begin. Women like Sergeant Jennifer Fulford and Officer Ally Jacobs took very different experiences that gained each of them international attention as well as numerous awards and accolades, and began sharing what they had each learned with others in the profession. Both of these women are generous with their time and low key about their accomplishments, key elements in one’s success as a trainer. After all, when you’re in the classroom or up on stage, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
Just do it. If you’re interested in being a classroom instructor and it’s something you’ve never done before, just put your fears and your ego away and get out there! Not sure how to get started? Volunteer to give talks to local school, church and service groups in your jurisdiction. Someone is always looking for a speaker. This proved to be an excellent proving ground for many police trainers. Trust me, if you can hold the attention of 15 overexcited Cub Scouts trying to achieve their “law enforcement” badge, be ready to take it to the next level. Join a couple of professional associations and attend their conferences, check out the workshops. Research the need, study the topic, and contact next year’s event organizers. Attend an instructor development class; learn how to put together a dynamic presentation, and read and research everything you can get your hands on and then get out there!