It's human nature to get in a routine and take things for granted. Good cops know that staying sharp and maintaining an edge requires commitment and constant training. Unfortunately, many cops assume that after a few years of pushing a patrol car they have the routine down. Worse yet, they begin to feel a sense of entitlement and even exhibit a little " What have you done for me lately?" attitude. Maybe you feel that way it's certainly not unusual.
At this point, you might want to consider for a moment how you would answer this question: If you found out about some great training but would have to attend on your own dime and time, would you go? I can almost hear a collective gasp from some of our labor-inclined readers. What, you expect me to invest my own money and time in training? If you expect me to do my job better, you better provide the time for me to go and pay all the expenses related to it. I ve heard words to this effect on more than one occasion over the years, and, truth be known, I may have even felt something close to this at one time or another. But it's wrong!
I understand the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as any police manager, and I know that when people work, you have to pay them, so don't even try pulling that FLSA won't let you do that stuff on me. But there s a difference between getting paid to do your primary job and its required training and investing in yourself and your profession. Investing means putting a part of yourself into the effort.
I just returned from the International Law Enforcement and Educators Conference (ILEETA) in the Chicago area. Many of our contributors are members of ILEETA, and a large group of our charter subscribers came from the ILEETA ranks. This is something I'm very proud of because ILEETA represents the very heart and soul of what law enforcement is all about. Why do I say this? This was my third ILEETA conference, and each year, I've seen countless examples of ILEETA members going the extra mile and demonstrating commitment to improving law enforcement. They are willing to invest of themselves to learn how to better serve others, usually by obtaining an instructor certification that allows them to go back and teach new skills and techniques to others.
The dedication to training demonstrated at ILEETA was remarkable. Classes often began at 0800 hrs and many finished at 2200 hrs, followed by another day starting at 0800. And while there were a few lecture classes, most were hands-on instruction, ranging from baton instructor to searching and handcuffing techniques.
The quality of the training was outstanding. Time and again, I saw instructors ensuring those in attendance actually understood the subject being taught. Just as important, safety checks were evident every place they were appropriate. But here's the real story: A lot of those in attendance came on their own dime and time. Between classes, I met officers who had dug into their own pocket to come to ILEETA, paying their own way and taking vacation time. All were adamant that ILEETA was worth the investment.
Are you willing to invest part of yourself to become more effective in your job? Will you spend a little money and time to learn a new skill or sharpen an existing one? Or do you rely on someone else to schedule your training and go only because it s part of your scheduled work day?
If you're fortunate enough to work in an area where training is abundant and well funded, count your blessings. It isn't that way in many parts of the country. In fact, I've been told that this magazine often serves as a primary means of delivering training in departments struggling to make ends meet because there is little or no formalized training. When structured training does occur, it's usually because a motivated officer sought training from a source like ILEETA and brought it back to their department. Talk about protect and serve this is the epitome of service at the highest level.
Before you put this magazine down, think about an area you need to improve on or a new skill you would like to develop. Give some thought to looking at that training as an investment in your future and engage, even if it means a little of your own dime or time. There will be a return on your investment. —Dale Stockton, Editor