Brent J. Meyer
PORAC Vice President
Ask your average citizen about law enforcement training, and you’ll likely elicit a response chock-full of images of cadets with fresh haircuts, firearms ranges and traversing the trials of the police academy. But ask those of us who’ve been there and made it through … we know better.
In today’s highly complex and constantly evolving world of law enforcement, training never stops. Some of it is annual, most of it perishable, but all of it is necessary. The last sergeant I worked for lived for roll-call training moments; he made it challenging, but fun — and never passed on the opportunity to clown himself for the sake of making a serious training point. Whether it’s a shift briefing update on the penal code or a new local ordinance, a quick refresher on clearing a room or instructions on the finer points of the felony traffic stop, cops crave additional training.
Like lawyers, doctors and teachers, modern law enforcement practitioners spend their careers in professional development and continuing education. Countless hours are devoted to making sure we are equipped with the latest strategies, from tactics to technology. But mostly, we do it to stay sharp … and alive!
Professional development and career training are a key focus of PORAC’s mission. Although it is probably one of the least publicized parts of our work, training is incredibly important to our members and PORAC’s contribution to healthy, active and alert member associations. And we dive deep when it comes to training. Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate to serve as the chairman of PORAC’s Training Committee. It’s been instructive, and I appreciate the mission-critical importance of helping to develop POST-certified training, as well as the unique opportunities it has provided for diverse subject matter to be presented to our members.
As law enforcement professionals, we all possess qualities that define the word “leader”; otherwise, we wouldn’t succeed very long on the job. Most cops are born leaders in one fashion or another, but that instinct must also be developed and refined. The skills that go into building leaders aren’t inherent. They must be learned, trained on and practiced. It’s here where I believe PORAC excels. We recognize that as leaders emerge in our associations across California, they often rely upon their experience as they interact with department heads, local elected officials and fellow members. But that experience can be supplemented with skills developed over generations — strategies involving negotiation, organizing and relationship building. All are unique skills that, if not refreshed and updated, can become dull and without benefit to the members. And I’m not talking about just an elementary review of the basics, either. I’m talking about valuable career development, skills that test and improve a leader’s knowledge and understanding of the challenges that face our profession.
In my work with our Training Committee, I’ve been busy in recent months working with our staff to review and assess PORAC’s training needs. Several important themes have already emerged. When I began to gather inventories of existing training, I very quickly learned that many of our members are eager for new courses that push them to higher levels of professionalism. I’ve been greatly encouraged by the importance our members place on training and development. It’s also been encouraging to see that the emphasis on training isn’t just limited to our local association leaders. PORAC members from all corners of the state, large and small agencies, ranging from those recently out of the academy to cops with decades on the job — all of them have expressed interest in training and professional development.
While we all know that professional skills are perishable, we also understand that funding education for law enforcement is a necessary expense. Across California, elected officials, city managers and police administrators are always looking at our agency’s training budgets to assess the potential to save money at our expense. They convince themselves that a commitment to professional development doesn’t provide a qualitative value. Cuts always seem to be the first option. Rest assured that PORAC will continue to fight on your behalf to prevent that from happening. We know POST-certified training can’t be treated as a leverage point in budget discussions, yet every legislative session finds us doing our best to beat back reductions in POST’s budget. Professional development extends its value far beyond the skills it helps to create in PORAC members — vital skills that play out in every contact we make, in every call for service we answer and with every law enforcement professional we represent. Needless to say, this is why an emphasis on training is so essential to PORAC. And it’s also why we will continue to be relentless in advocating for more of it for each one of you.
Thank you for your membership, have fun and stay safe!