This week marks the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. If you can’t be there, you can read the wisdom of many of ILEETA’s master instructors. Brian Willis, an inspirational police trainer who spent a quarter century with the Calgary Police Department, has edited a superb collection titled “If I Knew Then: Life Lessons from Cops on the Street.”
Roll on the floor with Corporal Paul Fuhr of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the drunk he has arrested sinks his thumbs into the officer’s orbital sockets and does his damndest to gouge his eyes out. Grieve with Chris Butler, who served in Calgary as long as Brian, as he investigates death after untimely death, and learns to cope with the ugliest things law enforcement brings its personnel face to face with.
Brian did not neglect US cops in his collection. Ride with veteran Illinois street cop Bob Willis through a collision in which his patrol car is doing 70 MPH and oncoming vehicle, 50. Feel what it’s like to suffer an impact that leaves you with 39 bone fractures and bends your holstered Smith & Wesson into a banana shape. Share DEA Agent Chuck Soltys’ revelation that the quiet, unassuming peace officers are often the ones who display the most conspicuous heroism when the crap hits the fan. Share Dale Stockton’s satisfying memory of the relief in the voice of the terrified stalking victim when the Carlsbad, CA police captain tells her that her stalker has been captured. Battle in the snow with a violent criminal impervious to pain, alongside Geoffrey Anderson, who did 25 years with the Newington, Connecticut PD. And, to better understand the gallows humor that is a safety valve for all who work in helping professions and are exposed to unrelieved grimness in their occupation, read my old friend Ron Borsch’s essay on the practical jokes that helped him and his brother officers keep their emotional balance at work.
There’s much, much more – too much more to list in this short space. Suffice to say that the forty essays that comprise “If I Knew Then” are a treasury of street-wise, people-savvy knowledge. Priceless to anyone considering a law enforcement career, it’s also a compelling read for any responsible citizen who wants to better understand what it’s REALLY like to do the law enforcement job.
“If I Knew Then” can be ordered from the publisher’s website at www.warriorspiritbooks.com.