Suppose you or your agency knew that the instructor for the course you were looking to attend had been previously arrested for resisting arrest after a domestic incident, while on-duty for his police agency after driving out of his town (indeed out of the county where he was working as a uniformed street patrol supervisor), had been pepper-sprayed by arresting officers and had his patrol unit towed. What if your agency checked into this same instructor’s background and confirmed that he had once shown pictures and videos of naked women in the main auditorium of the State academy as well as other ethical violations?
Would you as a supervisor send students to this instructor? Would you attend his course?
How about if you were aware that a foreign born instructor of the course perpetrated the myth that he was a former Special Forces soldier, when in fact, he had never even been in the military and had lied about most of his background? Would you go to a SWAT class or armed tactics class from this instructor even though he had never been an armed officer or tactical operator?
What if you found out that the instructor of your course who claimed extensive military combat experience had none? Despite his public comments about “Only police or military combat vets should be instructing law enforcement firearms training” he had never been in combat himself. If you knew this same instructor had been forced to resign from numerous instructor positions because of safety issues and had once, while working for a civilian police agency, claimed in writing combat and special operations experience he did not have including Delta Force would that make a difference? If you or your agency knew all this, would you still send students or attend yourself?
How about an instructor who claimed he was forced to retire on disability from a municipal agency after an on-duty injury which he sustained during a S.W.A.T. dope raid. Only to find that he was never a full-time member of that agency never on a SWAT team and was only an unarmed reserve. Further, this same instructor had been forced to resign from his police agency because he was “meeting” with prostitutes while on duty?
We’re not talking barroom braggadocio or “war stories” told during happy hour to impress the opposite sex. We are talking about actions and statements which are unethical, flat out untrue or illegal.
John F. Gilbey
Years ago renowned martial arts instructor (and former C.I.A. agent) Robert W. Smith wrote three books under the pen name of John F. Gilbey. The books including, Secret Fighting Arts of the World, (Tuttle; 1989) were written tongue-in-cheek meaning, Mr. Smith told some tall tales including a mythical martial artist who could bend steel beams by punching them. Although entertaining to read if not taken seriously, the books were unfortunately taken as gospel. For years readers have wondered who the mythical John F. Gilbey was and how they could study with him or the martial arts instructors and experts written about in the book.
As P.T. Barnum is alleged to have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But a better quote is caveat emptor, “Let the buyer beware.”
Liars, Exaggerators, Prevaricators – Bull Dung by Any Other Name Still Stinks
Does it matter if you attend training by someone who has fabricated their background or been arrested? Of course it does. A recent informal survey of fellow trainers acknowledged that integrity and credibility were foundational factors of a good instructor. Lack of same means that everything the man or woman says must be questioned. And there’s the “fruits of the poisonous tree” analogy. Let’s say you learn ground fighting or riot control from someone who couldn’t tell the truth if his life depended on it or firearms training from the previously arrested cop. If and when your training is brought into play in court or training emanating from this instructor you’ve brought into your agency the training and ipso facto the results of that training are tainted. Would your city, county or agency want to bring that instructor into court to defend his training? “Isn’t it true sir that you have completed fabricated your background?” “Mr. Black, is it not true you were once arrested while on-duty and resisted arrest?”
Think I’m off base here? Go ask your city or county attorney or agency legal advisor.
Think it won’t be found out? In the age of Google® and the Internet, fraudulent backgrounds can be found out in minutes.
Vet Their Creds
Check your instructors out – vet them. If they say they have military experience in special operations, ask for proof. Ask for DD214’s or other military records. If they say that they came from a certain agency, reach out to that agency. Do a little homework before you plunk down your or your agency’s hard earned cash.
Ask for school rosters for the last couple of classes and call a couple of students to check the instructor out. Don’t accept statements like, “My job was Top Secret and only the President knew what I did…” Good instructors will welcome the scrutiny. They know that frauds, posers and charlatans are within the ranks of instructors available and that if background checks are completed, real deal instructors will be chosen instead.
Sadly I once asked a Naval officer about a certain instructors claims. The query came back, “Not to be trusted.” I then sent back an email a short while later after the Navy hired this same instructor to train their personnel in Greece in SWAT tactics. One instructor I’m familiar with makes more money in contracts from the state law enforcement academy each year than many police officers or sheriff’s deputies in rural counties in the state. And yet he has fabricated his background, police and military resume as well as lacking any tactical expertise or crowd control experience.
Yet agencies and officers continue to pay these people for training. Is it that we trust and don’t want to believe we’re being lied to? Is it that we buy the “used car salesman’s” pitch and don’t kick the wheels or look under the hood? Are we so motivated to get “high-speed-low-drag” training that we don’t check to see if the instructor is who he says he is or has the experience he claims?
I dunno but until we start doing a little background on professional trainers and instructors we use and check out the classes we attend: these posers, frauds and criminals will continue and that’s sad considering the ethical, honorable, credible, experienced professional trainers and instructors who are out there.