PERF, Pain, & Problem Children

Making the most of it: Millennials in our ranks & shortcomings in our training

By Elijah Woodward  |   Mar 24, 2016

So I’m sitting on the plane right now on my way back from my first ever ILEETA conference.

First off, if you’re a cop and you have a pulse, go.

Second, huge thanks to the phenomenal Calibre Press family and Harvey Hedden who allowed me to go and present on “Hackers, d0xing, and Patrol Cops”.

Walking away, this conference had me thinking about things a bit differently. Below are some observations and learning points that we can all apply.

Observation: Trainers are usually angry about something. Rarely did a trainer look around our industry and say, “Gee, we’re doing a great job at XYZ! I should go train on it!” No, quite the opposite.

A common theme I found from trainers is that they have identified deficiencies, and, just as importantly, they’re problem-solvers who have researched the hell out of their pet peeve AND found ways to fix it.

Learning point: If you’re finding yourself discontent with something about the job, you’re not alone. Most innovation seems to come from someone noticing how bad something is. Which takes me to my second point.

Observation: These trainers are not stuck in a hopeless, futile pity-party crying about how much things suck. They saw something was wrong, grabbed it, and have found solutions. Whether it was Graham Tinius noticing differences in generations and how to fix it or Wes Doss, who has some excellent points on low-light shooting, these are not whiners who sat around waiting for some research group to come up with a solution. They stepped up to the plate themselves.

Learning point: Be a fixer, not a whiner. That’s what sets these folks apart. It wasn’t their keen genius and intellectual superiority (OK, Mark Fallon is a genius). It was their willingness to be industry leaders and having the guts to write something down and send something in. There’s no secret to this: that’s all it takes!

Observation: Lots of hate for PERF and some for millennials. First off let me say, I have never met any of the folks at PERF and until this week never spent too much time reading their stuff. I have no ill will for PERF myself, but a lot of folks are gravely concerned about their work and see it as fundamentally undermining the work of the beat cop.

Second, being a millennial myself, and probably the only instructor there under 30, I heard a lot of frustration from the instructors about the next generation of cops in the ranks. The good news is that they’re flooding our workforce and will soon be the largest age group in law enforcement. The bad news is that they’re flooding our workforce and will soon be the largest age group in law enforcement–and your supervisor in the near future.

Learning point: Trainers, subject matter experts, and leadership need to partner on use of force topics.

Now.

I don’t think we can overestimate what’s at stake, so getting everyone at the table and having a conversation isn’t just playing nice, it’s the responsible thing for all of law enforcement, and ultimately, our society. Use of force is the issue of our time. We need to get it right.

As for millenials, I’m still figuring that one out, but if there’s two things I can calm everyone with, it’s the following two points.

1. We grew up with Captain-freaking-Planet, while you grew up with Voltron  and  Scooby-Doo. From an early age this generation was indoctrinated with the idea that we can have a big impact and can save the world if we work as a team (our forces combined …).

I don’t think this generation will have as many problems with being powerless victims of their circumstances. Sure, some people always will be, but expect to see some more resiliency in these kids. Hell, a lot of millennials got out of college just in time to have historically high student loan debt and the worst job market in 70 years. Sink or swim, baby! And some of us are really paddling.

2. They have an overarching desire to achieve and be recognized! EXPLOIT THAT! More to come later.

Conclusion

Again, many thanks to all the instructors and organizers who made this conference possible. It wouldn’t have been possible with your dedication.

Now go make your reservations for ILEETA, St. Louis 2017!

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Elijah Woodward
Elijah Woodward is the owner of SavageCyberSpace.com, a security consulting company focusing on information and cyber security as well as physical security. He has 10 years of law enforcement experience working in patrol, motors, and community resources. He is a member of the FBI’s InfraGard program, and the High Technology Crime Investigator’s Association. Elijah believes that law enforcement is in a prime position to address the issues of cyber crime and fraud, and it will be cops at the local level who will have the greatest impact on these new crimes as they continue to plague our communities. Reach him at [email protected]