The term “spiritual high” is often used following a religious revival and if there was such a thing in law enforcement, it would be after the annual International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). I’ve been attending this conference for several years and it is no doubt the finest trainer's conference given to law enforcement each year.
Although the 2011 Conference was as good as ever, there was something different in the air. While “officer safety” and awareness is always a focus at each conference, there certainly seemed to be an attitude of urgency like I’ve never seen before. Violent deaths against our profession are producing record numbers at this point in the year and the nation's trainers brought everything they had to ILEETA 2011.
It could not have been more apparent than at the Below 100: Train the Trainer course offered to those attending the conference. I was humbled to have been asked by Dale Stockton, the editor in chief of Law Officer, to take the stage alongside Chief Jeff Chudwin and the 2011 Trainer of the Year, Brian Willis. I can truly say it was a day I’ll never forget.
Dale Stockton began the course with a rally to the packed room of trainers that we can do more and Jeff, Brian and myself followed up with some specific actions that we can do to push our annual line of duty deaths to below 100. The excitement and energy in the room was dynamic and ever since I’ve seen e-mails and been in discussions with countless trainers who are now more committed than ever to do whatever it takes.
To accomplish this means that good trainers will have to work hard. It will take leaders within agencies to grab on to this campaign and never let it go. It didn’t take long for me to see that very thing in action. Just two days after the conference, I found myself in a small classroom in Fort Smith, Ark.
Sitting in the front row was the Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey. Behind him sat several of his officers and the focus of the day was driving and as I drove home several points, I couldn't help but be impressed by a department chief that would attend this training. I couldn't remember the last time I saw a chief in one of my classes. When I asked Chief Lindsey about becoming a “Below 100” Agency, his answer did not surprise me.
“Yes, we will do it,” he said.
And with that affirmation, the Fort Smith Police Department will be doing their part to keep the annual law enforcement deaths below 100 per year. They will undergo training, display posters and do everything they can to create an environment that fosters safety on a daily basis.
A few weeks ago, in another classroom, a sergeant I respect told me that to think our deaths could actually go below 100 was a “bold statement.” I told him it was, but that it would happen. As long as there are other leaders around our country like Chief Lindsey, then I have no doubt we will reach that goal sooner rather than later.
Are you interested in your agency joining the growing list of “Below 100” departments? Please visit www.LawOfficer.com/Below100 and keep your eyes open as more resources are developed to help you embrace this critical initiative.
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