If you’re interested in professionalism, expanding your knowledge base and cultivating connections with police officers from other departments, there is a simple and inexpensive solution. Several organizations are working to improve law enforcement professional standards and training. Some of these organizations focus on trainers, some focus on supervisors, while others focus on more specialty assignments such as firearm instructors or SWAT.
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Regardless of your interest, there is an organization ready to help you succeed. Most of these organizations have annual conferences where you can learn new skills, teach others and connect with police officers who share similar interests. These conferences, along with their regular publications and newsletters, keep law enforcement officers up to date with investigative and court trends. They introduce you to new technology and keep you current with new training methods. The conferences often include a vendor expo where you can meet representatives from the companies whose products you use daily.
As a longtime member of several of these, I have met people who have inspired me, mentored me and pushed me to improve. I have met officers from all over the world and have become close friends with several of them. I started training officers nationwide and began writing for Police1 and other publications as a direct result of my memberships. Additionally, my department and the officers I worked with benefited from my contacts with other trainers and companies.
Several of these groups have state equivalents that provide a variety of training and networking opportunities. Additionally, most states have K9 and drug enforcement associations that are invaluable for developing connections for K9 handlers and to aid in drug investigations.
Here’s a short list, description and contact information for some professional organizations. This is not an all-inclusive list, but it should serve as a good launch pad for your own research. I am confident that I failed to list a worthy organization, and I apologize in advance for that omission.
I have been a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) since 2009 and currently serve as an Advisory Board Member.
ILEETA is an association of professional trainers and educators dedicated to improving the effectiveness of criminal justice practitioners, as well as enhancing their safety and the communities they serve. A unique characteristic of ILEETA is that it is an organization of peers with no rank or hierarchy. For example, as a first-time attendee of the ILEETA Conference & Expo, you will be treated as the most important person at the conference. The more often you attend, and the more members you meet, the more it begins to feel like a family reunion.
Whether you are newly assigned to training or have decades of experience, you will find value in belonging to ILEETA. Membership in ILEETA is select. You must be involved in the delivery of education or training to the criminal justice community by being an educator, trainer, supervisor, or manager of criminal justice education or training. Not just any law enforcement officer or criminal justice professional can become a member. There are no associate members. Certifications, licenses, or a letter of reference from a criminal justice agency are required to join.
Find more information about ILEETA at https://www.ileeta.org/.
I’ve been a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) since 1999.
IALEFI was organized in 1981 by a group of concerned firearms instructors. This group recognized the need to update and modernize the instruction and teaching techniques used to train law enforcement officers in firearms and use of force. It’s an independent, non-profit member association supported by dues and managed by a Board of Directors elected from among the active members.
IALEFI led the way in the transition training from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols in the mid-1980s and modern force-on-force simulation training. Today, IALEFI continues to offer training opportunities to its members during the Annual Training Conference, Regional Training Conferences, Master Instructor Development Courses and their own instructor certification classes.
Active Membership is open to firearms instructors professionally engaged in training law enforcement, security, criminal justice and investigative personnel. Associate Membership is available to other individuals who are interested in furthering the aims and purposes of IALEFI. Sponsor Membership is open to corporations or individuals who wish to support IALEFI through dues.
Find more information about IALEFI at https://www.ialefi.com/.
I’ve been a member of the National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Association (NLEFIA) since its inception in January 2015.
NLEFIA is dedicated to professional firearms instructors in the law enforcement, military and private sector communities who provide life-saving firearms training to our nation’s guardians and warriors.
NLEFIA is committed to providing a network of information sharing, continuing education and training, and advanced certifications to professional firearms instructors. NLEFIA was created to further the knowledge and skills of professional firearms instructors so they can take their students to the next level of skill development. Their goal is to help further the advancement of firearms training programs to reduce the number of law enforcement officers who are killed in the line of duty from the unlawful use of deadly force and firearms-related training accidents.
NLEFIA was created primarily for law enforcement firearms instructors. However, NLEFIA is open to military firearms instructors, firearms instructors in the security industry, and professional firearms instructors from the private sector training community that provide training to law enforcement, military, or government-contracted security personnel.
Find more information about NLEFIA at https://nlefia.org/.
The National Association of Field Training Officers (NAFTO) is an educational and professional association focused on apprenticeship training.
Commonly referred to as the “Field Training Program” or the “Field Training Officer Concept,” apprenticeship training is used for law enforcement, communications and corrections personnel. Field Training Officers (FTOs) are experienced officers who attend organized and established training that provides the skills necessary to evaluate and train career candidates.
NAFTO was created as a resource for law enforcement, corrections and communications FTOs throughout the United States and beyond. NAFTO encourages the exchange of ideas and communication to improve Field Training Programs and increase the knowledge and skills of FTOs.
NAFTO is a resource for FTOs, field training program supervisors and departments for developing and growing field training programs. NAFTO hosts an annual training conference featuring break-out sessions, guest speakers, specialized classes, and much more. FTOs in various career fields exchange ideas and solutions for field training programs within their own organization and help others improve their training programs.
Find more information about NAFTO at https://www.nafto.org/.
The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) is an organization dedicated to serving the law enforcement community. The NTOA has more than 40,000 members from specialties that include patrol, crisis negotiations, canine, corrections, sniper, explosives, command, tactical dispatchers, behavioral sciences and more.
The NTOA’s goal is to improve public safety and domestic security through training, education and tactical excellence. Their mission is to enhance the performance and professional status of law enforcement personnel by providing credible and proven training resources as well as a forum for the development of tactics and information exchange.
The NTOA has established national SWAT standards that departments can voluntarily use as a standard benchmark for training, staffing and capabilities. Members can take advantage of the NTOA annual training conference, interactive members-only website offerings, and their publication, “The Tactical Edge.” They also offer a wide variety of classes throughout the country including classes on active shooter response, SWAT Team Leader Development and Command Decision-Making, and crisis negotiator courses.
Find more information about NTOA at https://www.ntoa.org/.
Established in 1893, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) may be the oldest professional organization in law enforcement.
IACP bills itself as the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders. With more than 32,000 members in over 170 countries, the IACP has been serving communities by speaking out on behalf of law enforcement and advancing leadership and professionalism in policing worldwide.
The IACP is known for its commitment to improving community safety by shaping the future of the police profession. Through research, programming and training opportunities, the IACP is preparing current and emerging police leaders to succeed in addressing the most pressing issues, threats, and challenges of the day.
The IACP is the publisher of “Police Chief” magazine, a periodical for law enforcement executives, and the host of the IACP Annual Conference, the largest police educational and technology exposition in the world. IACP membership is open to law enforcement professionals of all ranks including non-sworn leaders across the criminal justice system.
Find more information about IACP at https://www.theiacp.org/.
Chartered in 1940, the National Sheriffs’ Association offers police training, court security training, jail information and other law enforcement services to sheriffs, deputies and others throughout the nation. The NSA represents thousands of sheriffs, deputies and other public safety professionals nationwide. Through the years, NSA has provided programs for sheriffs, their deputies, chiefs of police and others in the field of criminal justice to perform their jobs in the best possible manner and to better serve the people of their cities, counties, or jurisdictions.
The NSA has worked to forge cooperative relationships with local, state, and federal criminal justice professionals across the nation to network and share information about homeland security programs and projects. The NSA has assisted sheriff’s offices, sheriff’s departments, and state sheriff’s associations in locating and preparing applications for state and federal homeland security grant funding.
The NSA offers training conferences and events including a Winter conference and an annual conference.
Find more information about the NSA at https://www.sheriffs.org/.