The Law Enforcement Engineer

Posted: March 12, 2013 in Law Enforcement Training
Tags: , , ,

engineer title

The cars were lined up ready to travel across the new bridge.  Their small town would finally be united with the city across the river.  It would save the citizens 45 minutes of driving to get to the stores, the schools, and the only hospital.  The people raised millions of dollars and donated hundreds of hours to make the project work.  The mayor cut the ribbon, but before the first car could cross, the engineer made an announcement.  He told the people, “I did not use design plans, follow construction requirements, or perform any safety tests on the structure. However, I assure you that it is safe to cross.”

The citizens were shocked and appalled.  They refused to drive across the bridge with their families at risk.  How could he be so reckless?

The engineer was insulted – he was an expert after all.  He knew what he was doing.  What more did they want?   

Would you cross the bridge with your kids in the car?  Would you be upset after investing time and money in the project? Walking into a presentation with nothing more than your expertise in law enforcement is the same as building a bridge without design plans, without meetingBridge Collapse construction requirements, and without any safety testing.  It is a disaster waiting to happen.  Students invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to attend your academy, and they should see a presentation with design plans – not an instructor who decided to wing it.

A poorly constructed bridge appears to be more dangerous than a poorly trained police officer – but the bridge will only collapse once. The law enforcer may be around for decades impacting the lives of thousands of citizens and endangering his fellow officers.

It is a noble endeavor to serve as a police instructor, but you must develop essential qualities to succeed. You need determination over discouragement, enthusiasm to train law enforcers, and the self-confidence to believe you will succeed.


“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.” ~David Starr Jordan

As an instructor, you are the engineer of your presentation.  Your expertise is the greatest value the cadets can receive, but without planning and preparation they will be confused much of the time.  You may know what you mean during your talk but they will not.  It is all new to them.

Do not use the old excuses: “I’m better off the cuff,” or “I don’t want to sound rehearsed,” or the most common “I don’t have time to prepare anything; I’m too busy.”  This is what I refer to as crap, double crab, and lazy crap.  It is all crap!  If you want to wing it with a 3 minute speech, have at it, but when you are teaching cops and cadets, you owe it to society to invest some time and effort to make it significant.  If you give any less, you are building a bridge without plans, without meeting construction requirements, and without any testing. Structurally, it will be doomed.

Many of us don’t look forward to the preparation of a presentation and even fewer want to practice before the actual delivery, but it is a necessary step to make citizens into cadets and cadets into guardians.

“It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”  ~W. Somerset Maugham

Richard Neil is the author of “Police Instructor: Deliver Dynamic Presentations, Create Engaging Slides, & Increase Active Learning.” He is a familygroup 002retired city cop, and instructs for several of Ohio’s criminal justice training academies. He can be contacted through his website that is dedicated to law enforcement educators and trainers –

  1. Jimmy says:

    Very good Richard – if you don’t want or have time to prepare – then don’t do it – your students deserves the best you have – so prepare and get the job done right – Jimmy

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