This year's International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) Conference brought more than 700 trainers from around the globe to Wheeling, Ill., for top-shelf training.
This year's conference, which was in April, offered several training tracks with more than 150 classes, and ILEETA's Executive Director Harvey Hedden proudly stated that each track had offerings for the students each day. Due to the immense preparation and balance in preparing the schedule, the days of making decisions to take one class and miss another were bygone days.
Each day, despite your interests, there was something offered for every conference attendee's needs. Tracks covered Instructor Certification/Armorer, Officer Safety/Use of Force, Specialized, Instructor Development, Defensive Tactics, Firearms/Deadly Force, Live Fire Firearms Training, and Management and Administration of Training.
The one topic area that usually peaks interest is the Defensive Tactics/Use of Force track. There were several hands-on certification courses in the rooms with the mats. You could learn physical skills and be taken to the mat by several top martial artists and law enforcement trainers.
Observing Canadian Sensei Tom Gillis work with his students was enlightening because it allowed attendees to compare the manner in which force is applied in Canada verses in this country. However, officer survival was the focus — your location matters less than having a sense of urgency to lower the number of officer deaths and injuries. The goal was clear; keep the memorial wall bare and the numbers low.
The following day, a defensive tactics course covered the legal aspects of the use of force, as well as recent court cases and timely rulings. The next day, you could attend a panel forum discussion with open questions from the students to the dais. The circle of training was covered to include technology and there were course offerings to meet everyone's needs, including supervisor training and instructor development.
Several years ago, ILEETA organizers responded to the attendee's request for how to be better instructors and supervise the training function. This conference is not a "kick and shoot" club, but a complete conference with all the selections to meet each trainer's needs today to face tomorrow's issues.
The conference expo contained more than 150 vendors with the new technology and equipment to offer attendees an introduction to what is cutting edge in the training market. Several companies offered individual instruction and presentations on the expo floor. This maximized the contact with the attendees. Where else could a potential user get this personal attention from the company representatives?
In addition to presenting their products, several offered classroom training and certification on their product lines. Also, this year there was more virtual reality with the vast array of firearms and driving simulators. The green technologies allow vast numbers to participate in contests and training without leaving the expo site.
Today's top names in training not only lectured but attended classes as well. The academic experience of interacting and making personal contacts with the top writers and teachers awed many participants. As one attendee told me, attending their class is one thing but speaking and learning informally from some of these trainers was worth the trip and price alone.
The signs of the global budget woes did not stop several from attending. One interesting point this year was it appears more trainers attended on their own personal time and expense. This clearly shows the dedication of the professional trainers of this organization and their devotion to their calling as a law enforcement trainer. Keeping their trainer's eye sharp and their students safe is important to the point this was some attendee's vacation time.
This conference is the answer to a chief, sheriff or training administrator who is seeking to maximize their training budget. A trainer can attend this conference and gain several certifications at reduced prices to where this is the most economical means to get staff certified.
My recommendation to all is to start planning for the 2012 training conference, which will be April 16-21 in Wheeling. Police administrators need to work this into next year's budget. If you're a trainer, this is the place to be. See you there.