The ILEETA conference is an opportunity to recharge your personal batteries, and to stretch your professional capabilities. - Image courtesy of ILEETA.

The ILEETA conference is an opportunity to recharge your personal batteries, and to stretch your professional capabilities.

Image courtesy of ILEETA.

Hundreds of the most elite police trainers in the world are gathered this week at the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA)—an organization "committed to the reduction of law enforcement risk through the enhancement of training for criminal justice practitioners."

ILEETA is an event unlike any other in the law enforcement universe. The annual conference—first held in Wheeling, IL, in 2004—now offers more than 130 courses and more than two dozen instructor certifications on topics including use-of-force policy, defensive tactics techniques, leadership development, legal updates, and more. Instructor development courses range from building better slide presentations to designing training facilities to meet the needs of modern agencies.

This year's event will once again be held at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel in St. Louis (MO), having moved from Lombard (IL) in 2017

The weeklong series of seminars and vendor expositions is expected to draw more than 600 police training professionals —yours truly included—in an annual pilgrimage of exploration, learning, and growth.

To someone attending for the first time, the experience can be overwhelming—first-timers are frequently shocked at the total lack of hierarchy, as instructors for one session pack up their things and take a seat in the same classroom to take on the role of the learner in the very next session.

To seasoned veterans of the conference, it's as close to a family reunion as any professional gathering can be—with camaraderieand  fellowship taking place during impromptu conversations and confabs in the hallways, restaurants, and lounges throughout the week. Indeed, the relationships developed among attendees at the annual conference are invaluable.

Testimony of the Trainers

Over the past several weeks, the organizers of the conference have been posting to social media brief statements attributed to some of the more familiar names and faces in attendance every year on why they attend, what they tend to get out of it, and how the event is unlike any other in policing. Here are but a few examples.

"The ILEETA conference is the place where it all comes together for me. I'm able to connect with passionate trainers who are giving everything they have to make the profession better.  The synergy is empowering. I'm truly inspired by everyone I meet there. Everywhere I turn I see so many passionate people giving everything they have to help each other grow and learn."— Joe Willis

"The ILEETA conference is one of the best examples of bringing together voices from both law enforcement and civilians to effect change through training, education and conversation. The scheduled sessions are worth more than the price of admission, but the discussions held in the hallways, in the lounges, and over meals are just as enlightening...

"Being a non-sworn member of ILEETA gives me a unique perspective into the intense training the men and women of law enforcement receive to perform their jobs at the highest level. The instructors know the value of 'never stop learning.' You may attend a session given by an instructor you respect, then sit next to that instructor in the next class. To me, that demonstrates the purpose of ILEETA and the goal we all strive toward – the safety of the officers and the public they serve." — Kim Schlau

"ILEETA has been a part of my professional law enforcement career for the past 15 years. It is the one conference that caters to every possible interest an officer and trainer can have. Cutting-edge training and high-caliber trainers are accessible to every attendee. Other than when you're sleeping, the training never ends. If I were responsible for an agency, I'd mandate my trainers and as many officers as possible attend this week of training. It has never disappointed and never been a waste of time or money. ILEETA trainers and members are the tip of the spear when it comes to researching, analyzing and promoting the best law enforcement training in the world."— Chris Cerino

"ILEETA is always a chance to recharge my own batteries and connect with fellow trainers from across the country and around the world. Whether I am a presenter or a student, I always learn something from everyone I speak to. They keep me motivated. They keep me sharp. They keep me honest. It is both enriching and humbling being a part of such an association and the conference is the highlight of my year.— Fletch Fuller

Comparing the Incomparable

Three years ago I wrote in this space about a few takeaways I'd gathered during ILEETA 2019.

"We challenged each other with new ideas," I said. "We discussed and debated hard topics like active shooter response, hostage negotiations, domestic violence calls, ambush attacks on officers, and police officer mental health and wellness."

I also made the audacious comparison of law enforcement training to two "toys" of my youth—the Spirograph and the Etch-a-Sketch.

I opined that with the Spirograph, an individual can produce are potentially limitless outcomes within a finite framework and a handful of utensils. Similarly, and officer has a specific set of tools and tactics and yet there are countless permutations of how an event might unfold, because every single encounter is different.

I proffered further that with focus of attention and careful practice, an individual with an Etch-a-Sketch in hand can create something beautiful on a little grey screen which would be impossible for someone who is untrained.

In reality, of course, neither law enforcement officers nor the trainers who work to make them safer and more successful on the streets can be fairly compared to trivial things like toys.

Neither can ILEETA be compared with any other gathering of police professionals—it has to be experienced firsthand in order to be fully understood.

I'm looking forward to my ILEETA 2022 experience this week. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and being introduced to new ones. I'm looking forward to learning and laughing and doing far too little sleeping.

Regardless of whether you've been to ILEETA for 15 straight years (not including 2020 when it was cancelled due to COVID-19) or you're in your first 15 minutes of arrival and haven't even checked into your hotel room—the ILEETA conference is an opportunity to recharge your personal batteries, and to stretch your professional capabilities.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Contributing Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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