I’ve been going to TREXPO East and TREXPO West for 10 years, and the conferences never disappoint me. They are always timely, relevant, and taught by some of the best, most qualified experts anywhere. This year’s TREXPO West held in Long Beach, Calif., in February ranks at the top of all the TREXPO’s I have attended so far.

While checking out the many outstanding course offerings and instructors at this year’s TREXPO West, I realized that deciding which classes to attend would be difficult at best. So I decided to divide my time and sit in on as many classes as possible.
Here’s a look at my TREXPO West diary.

Day 1: 0800 to 1200 hours:

Since I’m “SWAT,” I decided to attend the classes taught by two of LAPD SWAT’s most renowned and respected members: Bob Gallegos and Ron McCarthy.

Bob Gallegos presented “Barricaded Subjects,” an appropriate topic for the many SWAT and patrol officers in attendance. Bob covered this universal topic from his LAPD SWAT viewpoint, from first response to SWAT response. He discussed how each law enforcement element contributes to the successful resolution of volatile barricaded subjects. Bob provided the insight and wisdom that only comes from a true professional who’s “been there” many times.

Bob’s guidelines are tactical “golden nuggets” that attendees can immediately incorporate into their ops because they’re proven effective. They include things like believing in “Murphy’s Law,” being flexible, investing the time in planning, understanding how the situation and the suspect can drive events, taking advantage of the luck factor, establishing effective containment perimeters, and avoiding crossfire.

Ron McCarthy taught “Civil Disturbance in the Face of Immigration Riots,” a concern for a growing number of agencies, especially in the Western states. Ron tackled this timely topic with an enthusiasm that guaranteed no one would be “bored” in his class. If you’ve ever attended any of his outstanding, lively classes, you know what I’m talking about. To say that Ron McCarthy “tells it like it really is” would be an understatement.

Ron covered several case studies, including the WTO riots in Seattle, the Los Angeles Democratic Convention riots, and the recent MacArthur Park melee also in Los Angeles. He explained what happened, why it happened, what went wrong, what went right, and why it went right. Ron also stressed that agencies and officers must learn from the past and use that knowledge to anticipate and improve future tactics. He offered specific strategies and tactics designed to ensure future successful law enforcement crowd control and riot response.

Day 1: 1300 to 1700 hours:

Capt. Jim Stalnaker, retired from the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Department, presented “Selection and Training of the Law Enforcement Sniper.” Jim’s vast understanding, knowledge, and experience on the subject of police snipers provides invaluable insight and advice into the incredibly precise, demanding, and unique position of police sniper.

Sgt. Richard Valdemar, retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, presented “West Side Story: The West Coast Gang Migration,” a look at California gangs (street and prison) and their growing influence throughout the nation. Rich is one of the top gang experts in the world and the lead contributor for PoliceMag.com’s Gangs Channel. Rich used his insight into the inner workings of California gangs to explain how the gangs have expanded nationwide. Always informative, always entertaining, Rich provides attendees with an understanding about gangs that can’t be found elsewhere.

Day 2: 1300 to 1500 hours:

Lt. R.K. Miller, retired from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Police Department, presented “Tactical Case Studies: Lessons Learned.” R.K.’s vast tactical knowledge allows him to analyze and dissect each of these events and issues, and offer valuable insights about the lessons learned from them.

Day 2 and Day 3: Keynote Speaker—John Giduck:

TREXPO West 2008 had the good fortune to have the  electrifying John Giduck as keynote speaker for both Day 2 and Day 3. On Day 2, John provided his unique perspective on the 2004 terrorist takeover of the school in Beslan, Russia. This terrifying atrocity should be required study for all of American law enforcement because it is a foreboding predictor of the future terror attacks that America is facing.

On Day 3, John discussed how terrorists think, their strategies, tactics, and objectives. John presented concrete counter strategies and tactics that American law enforcement can implement effectively right now to prepare for and counter this threat.

Once again, TREXPO West exceeded my already high expectations, presenting timely topics, taught by some of the best instructors in the world. I have only one regret about the conference: I wasn’t able to attend all of the other outstanding presentations.
So, I’ll just have to wait for the next TREXPO. See you at TREXPO East 2008, August 26 through August 29, in Chantilly, Va.  


Robert O'Brien
Robert O'Brien

Robert O'Brien

A member of the TREXPO Advisory Board, Sgt. Robert "Bob" O'Brien Cleveland SWAT Ret. is the founder of the R.J. O'Brien Group Ltd., a law enforcement training and consulting service that advises and trains a number of local, state, and federal SWAT teams.

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A member of the TREXPO Advisory Board, Sgt. Robert "Bob" O'Brien Cleveland SWAT Ret. is the founder of the R.J. O'Brien Group Ltd., a law enforcement training and consulting service that advises and trains a number of local, state, and federal SWAT teams.

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