The week before last, I attended and taught at the annual conference of ILEETA, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. Despite the economy, the event drew some 725 police trainers from around the country and several other nations, even though a huge number had to subsidize their attendance out of their own pockets.
It is a horrible year for police line of duty deaths. This past weekend alone, at least three cops in different parts of the US were murdered in the line of duty. Much of the emphasis of this year’s training was on Officer Safety and Survival.
The general consensus of police, military, and national intelligence is that it’s only a matter of time before this nation experiences an incident reminiscent of Beslan or Mumbai: armed, trained, committed terrorists massacring the innocent with automatic weapons and explosives. My old friend Jeff Chudwin, Chief of Police in Olympia Fields, Illinois and one of the nation’s leading authorities on such things, gave a compelling presentation on the topic.
At a time when we need more, better-trained and -equipped cops than ever, we’re seeing police layoffs, hiring freezes, and budget cuts. Many of the presenters addressed how to deliver quality training with less money for equipment, ammunition, and pay for officers attending.
For the private citizen, what all this is saying is to be prepared for disaster. Remember Hurricane Katrina, just six short years ago. In a nation where there are only about 800,000 cops to serve an estimated 320,000,000 citizens, it’s absolutely true that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
On a personal note, I shot the annual ILEETA Cup pistol match, sponsored by Meggitt, providers of excellent high-tech training simulators. We had close to fifty seasoned instructors and master shooters in the running, including Chris Cerino, finalist on last year’s “Top Shot” TV show. It was a challenging Meggitt course that represented targets as far away as about fifty yards, some of them moving, on the computer-run event. I had the good fortune to win it, proving the old adage that even a blind squirrel finds an occasional acorn. With only time to shoot four matches in the first four months of this year, I was grateful for the outcome…but more grateful for the chance to recharge my batteries with the spirit of commitment my 725 brothers and sisters brought to the ILEETA conference.
Jeff Chudwin warns that it’s only a matter of time before Beslan and Mumbai scenarios are acted out in the USA by enemies of our country.
Ron Borsch’s research shows that mass murders in the US are generally ended by private citizens (sometimes armed, often not) or by single, first responding police officers.
2011 ILEETA Cup pistol shooting award. From left, Jimmy McCoy of Meggit LE Training Section, Jimmy Smith of ILEETA, Mas, and ILEETA executive director Harvey Hedden.