The Street Survival Seminar, Pt. 2
A behind the scenes look, 1988 – 2000By Dave Grossi | Jan 17, 2018
If you haven’t already, click here to read Part One. Otherwise, we’re in the city, at the hotel, and all the advance work has been completed. Bob and I are dressed for work and ready to go.
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
On Day One, we’d head down to the ball room at 5:30am and set up the AV equipment, and once again test all the equipment, cue up the film clips and audio tapes, and then head to breakfast.
It was important to the company that the teaching begins at exactly the designated time. When we were hired, we learned that “7:55 a.m. on Day One was not the time to begin setting up or checking your AV equipment. Trying to correct any technical problems at 8:00 a.m. when your students are seated at their desks ready to learn shows a lack of respect for their time. Respecting your students’ time is critical to gaining their respect.”
Liz or Jim (seminar coordinators) would then set up the registration tables, brief the agency contacts on the all important security issues and ID admission requirements, and then set up the product table.
A brief note on seminar size: Average class sizes were between 350 and 450 students. The smallest program I can remember during my 12 years with the company was a program we did in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where just over 100 students were pre-registered. A few years earlier, Chuck and Denny had promised the agency we’d conduct a program there. Notwithstanding the red tape of getting into Canada with firearms, we’d had tremendous attendance all across our northern neighbor, from Toronto to Montreal and over to Vancouver. As it turned out, about 125 Calgary-area officers showed up and the program (based on the seminar evaluations) was a great success.
The largest group at a single program during my dozen years with the company was the customary end-of-year Las Vegas seminar, where between 900 and 1,000 officers from all across the U.S. (and several foreign countries) were not uncommon.
Liz or Jim worked out special discounted room rates for the attendees, which often included lunch specials. Trying to get 900 to 1,000 attendees fed in an hour when they had to venture outside the hotel to eat is a difficult task. So by arranging for lunch specials at the hotel restaurants it guaranteed most attendees returned to their seats at 1:00 p.m.
The venues in Vegas easily handled the large crowds. A built-in 20-x-20-foot glass-beaded screen dropped down from the ceiling and the stage height for demonstrations was 5 – 6 feet. But in some cities, due to room limitations, we’d have to schedule back-to-back programs (Atlantic City is an example) two or three days apart with attendance limited to 750 at each.
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Day Two’s routine began with similar set ups as Day One, minus the taping down of wires. We never had 24-hour “holds” on the ballroom due to costs. In other words, if the hotel booked an evening wedding or some other event in our ballroom, we’d do a total and complete break down at 5:00 p.m. after the seminar ended on Day One many times working around the hotel catering staff who were breaking down the tables and chairs from our classroom-style set-up. In those cases, Day Two started very early sometimes 3:30 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. in order to do a full set up and we’d have work around the catering personnel who were resetting the room, after which we’d head back to our sleeping rooms, shower, and meet for breakfast.
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Day Three was a shortened day by 30 minutes. Depending if Calibre had booked us on red-eye flights on the third day, break down could be a massive free-for-all, ripping up AV wires and electrical cords, and packing up all the equipment. If getting out on the third day wasn’t possible, we’d have a much more leisurely break down and leave on what was deemed Day Four, usually on the earliest possible morning flight out.
Depending on flight connections we’d get home mid-afternoon or early evening, check the mail, pay the bills, wash our clothes and get ready for the following Monday or Tuesday. It’s been estimated that between the regularly scheduled 25 to 30 pre-arranged open-to-the-police public seminars, coupled with the half dozen or so customized (private) seminars, Bob and I were on the road about 10 months a year. We both did quite a bit of expert work for the company, too. So a lot of our off time centered on trials, depositions, or site inspections. Calibre knew our family life was important, so they tried to give us a few weeks off in the summer, but travel during those months to Chicago for our “strategy sessions” or to custom seminar locations wasn’t unusual.
Some might ask, Why did we put in all those 12-, 16-, or 18-hour days for months at a time?
It wasn’t for the money, although Calibre compensated us accordingly for our professional police expertise, formal educations, and instructor creds. That helped, but the fact is, we did it for the message. Remsberg and Anderson, for not being cops, believed in the message taught in the trilogy they authored: Street Survival, The Tactical Edge, and Tactics for Criminal Patrol and the numerous award-winning training films they produced. The 24-hour, three-day seminar reinforced that life-saving message introduced in those books and films into what most officers remember as a very fast-paced, visually impacting–albeit structured–learning experience.
I know I speak for Bob Willis when I say it was an honor to work for Chuck and Denny during the years we did the seminars for them, which is why we both extended our teaching obligations without contracts and continued teaching the seminars even after they sold the company to N.Y.-based PriMedia Workplace Learning in 1999.
We did it for the message.