Raymond E. Atchley, M.Ed. Corrections Educator at New Mexico Corrections Department - Education Bureau
An Easy Chair and Coffee
(By: Robert R. Rail PhD., Author of “Surviving the International War Zone”)
No matter how I’ve changed over the years in my law enforcement career I still read every book in the same, identical manner. I sit in the most comfortable chair I can find, in a quiet secluded room, with a big, very big, mug of hot coffee at my side, and a highlighter marker in my hand. If, perchance, I happen to come across any tidbit of instructional knowledge that’s new to me, I mark away…
With a skeptical eye, and the critical perspective of a veteran officer who has served in three war zones and as a patrol officer and tactical trainer, I found myself preparing to read just another book on training. However, as the clock hands spun and I sank deeper and deeper in my chair, I came to the realization that I was now working on my second pot of coffee, and was in need of a fresh highlighter marker. Sought after tidbits of knowledge indeed! I found myself literally “painting” the pages of Police Instructor Handbook by Richard Neil with my marker.
The perception of professional awareness is a path on the law enforcement journey that is tragically littered with sad consequences. Failure to know what you are seeing, or failure to understand the repercussions of actions taken and not reacting in a cognitive manner are the direct result of disastrous training. It requires more of the training world than just bringing forth the law or an enforcement concept to the cadet or senior officer. We need to expand the understanding, the very base of knowledge, and The Police Instructor Handbook does just that. It has a depth that is achieved by a myriad of insightful skills and resourceful interactive classroom tactics… Chapter by chapter the book delves into and explains topics that touch the judgment and minds of the dedicated professional on all levels of experience and understanding, not just in the classroom, but out onto the street for a more successful and safer career. All of this critical knowledge and related perspectives are shown to be transferred from instructor to student by means of an insightful interactive methodology that is easily understood as it develops page by page.
From one cover to the other this diverse and all inclusive work on the world of police training keeps the reader interested and involved. There are quotes that are carefully interwoven into the outstanding classroom and street level advice that expounds on everything from slide presentations, active learning, dynamic presentations, and many other critical topics for the veteran instructor who is looking for a sharper edge to their skills, or the basic new instructors who are yet building their repertoire. The quotes are culled from everywhere, from the ancient works of the great philosophers to the statements of notables throughout the ages. These selected pearls of wisdom will help establish a point that is time and again well worth the reading and help to bring out a perspective with a growing and developing enforcement philosophy that takes root within the reader.
As I started delving into the Police Instructor Handbook by Richard Neil, it became obvious to me that this book was something not only new to all levels of the law enforcement community but overwhelmingly inclusive of a dramatically wide range of “how to” information. It has a myriad of wide ranging professional perspectives and personal reflections from the law enforcement point of view. The personal stories and accounts that Richard Neil so honestly bring forth in this book are truly inspiring in their straight forward honestly. From under his badge and from his heart, these stories are of critical value to all of us, and serve well in a powerfully honest, and at times self deprecating, manner that is seldom seen in our profession. The professional perspectives and skills discussed are insightful and creative methodologies that bring out the interest of even the most serious, senior level street officer.
I do take a critical exception to one of Mr. Neil’s remarks from page 206. He states “I am not a writer”. I do not concur with his observation. He is indeed a writer! If you were to ask of me if this book is worth the time and effort of reading, please allow me to reply in this manner… I look forward to my second reading with my old colleagues, the easy chair and mug of hot coffee.
Robert R. Rail PhD., “Surviving the International War Zone”
Police Instructor – A Must-Read for Every Police Trainer
James P. Gaffney, MPA
The role of a police instructor is challenging. As explained in Police Instructor, written by Richard H. Neil, Sr., the role is dynamic and ever changing. Police Instructor adopts the approach of bringing the street into the classroom. Neil tells readers to avoid just providing information and facts for fact’s sake. Instead, provide facts to enhance and develop situational awareness! This approach is applicable in both a police training and college criminal justice program. The author is quite clear. A police instructor does not simply transfer information. An excellent police instructor prepares each class member for the demands of the law enforcement profession.
Police Instructor is built upon the personal experiences of the author as both a police officer and instructor. Any trainer, from a novice to the most experienced professional, may learn from this book. Police Instructor is written in a relaxed, humorous, train-the trainer-style. Police Instructor offers unique approaches to capture class interest. The prepared instructor takes the time to understand the group dynamics of each class. This requires flexibility in lesson plan presentation. Neil warns the reader that the same lesson may require a different delivery to pique the interest of the class.
The author addresses the basic attributes of a successful instructor; integrity, credibility, loyalty, professionalism, and commitment to purpose. Those are demanding yet basic ingredients. Neil’s second message will draw the attention of one and all. The author defines the role of a police instructor without definition. How is that possible? Neil explains a police instructor does not take on one role. A definition limits one to a particular task to meet required expectations. A great police trainer is flexible.
A police instructor in the eyes of Richard H. Neil, Sr. takes on a role to recognize, meet and then surpass the norm. A police instructor is not subject to definition as much as recognition. Preparing oneself to prepare others is a never-ending process! Police Instructor is an open invitation to travel down the path already taken by the author. I have taken similar steps. As of this writing I am considering which step I will take next.
James P. Gaffney, MPA, Lieutenant Mamaroneck Police Department and Adjunct Professor at Berkeley College NY
I believe the recent publishing of POLICE INSTRUCTOR by Richard Neil is as important for training community as the first Street Survival manual was to law enforcement officers, when it was first published.
Randy, Investigator, Department of Natural Resources
As I started delving into Police Instructor by Richard Neil, it became obvious to me that this book was something not only new to all levels of the law enforcement community but overwhelmingly inclusive of a dramatically wide range of "how to" information.
Robert R. Rail PhD., "Surviving the International War Zone"
Police Instructor adopts the approach of bringing the street into the classroom. Neil tells readers to avoid just providing information and facts for fact’s sake. Instead, provide facts to enhance and develop situational awareness! This approach is applicable in both a police training and college criminal justice program. The author is quite clear. A police instructor does not simply transfer information. An excellent police instructor prepares each class member for the demands of the law enforcement profession.
James P. Gaffney, MPA, Police Executive & Adjunct Professor
I read this book once already and preparing to read it again to see what details I missed the first time. I have been instructing basic police academies and advanced law enforcement classes for the past 10 years, and I can say I have made a lot of mistakes. I agree 100 percent with what Richard is speaking about in his book. I have co-taught with Richard, and he is an excellent instructor. Richard in deed speaks from experience. This book is well researched and the most up to date information. I plan on using several of the techniques Richard speaks of in the book. I plan on updating nearly all of my powerpoint presentation based off of Richards examples. I know I have the information for the class, but sometimes have trouble putting the presentation together where it is easy for everyone to understand the material. With the information received from this book I feel I will have much better presentations in the future. This book is well worth your time reading and no matter how long you have been teaching you will pickup information to improve your classes.
Sgt. Lee McCartney, Miami County Sheriff’s Office and OPOTC Certified Instructor
It is a blessing to know Richard and to see his dedication to the field of law enforcement; more specifically, his dedication to doing what he can do to help instructors become better at what they do. Generally speaking, police instructors are law enforcement officers, not teachers. This book will help those valuable instructors with their valuable experience become better at teaching. It is an easy read, any instructor can thumb through it to pick up ideas for any class. Great job, Richard, at creating a book so full of ideas and suggestions.
Nancy Tamburini-Neal, Edison State Criminal Justice academy & Director of The Blessing Foundation
Although your academy audience appears to be young recruits, the principles you set forth are quite universal and applicable to audiences in general. In my humble opinion you've set them out quite well and managed to hit important points... I've always believed that you need to connect with people in some fashion before they will consider accepting what you have to say about anything. In this regard I like your advice very much regarding the instructor's resume spiel during introductions. Well done and thank you for sharing you work,
Al Rosa, Superintendent British Columbia Sheriffs, Attorney General
I read your book... (first completed reading of a book in years....). Great job.... even an old dog like me can pick up a pointer or two... I am sure the book will be beneficial in some way to all who read it. Like so many things in this world, it is a way to do some thing and doesn't come across as this is the only way. What works for some might not for others, but at least they have alternative options. I have seen great instructors, good instructors, fair instructors and then very poor instructors. But every time in this field... the majority know their respective topic... just don't know how to deliver it.
I respect your effort, time, and expertise that had to be put forth to author this book. Yes... and a true blessing your support system was to you!!!!!
Joseph Mahan, Commander, Edison State Criminal Justice Academy
“I am a seasoned presenter and am finding the book to be very entertaining and a very good resource as it stands. I would very much recommend the book for presenters, as it'll give a solid foundation to build one's growth as a presenter."
Dean Young, Law Enforcement & Security Practitioner and Educator - Alberta, Canada
Rich Neil's Police Instructor is a highly-effective reference book for anyone teaching police professionals. I read a great deal of professional material. Sadly, the presentation of important concepts in many books is often so dry and boring that I disengage from the content.
In contrast, Neil's Police Instructor is dynamic, entertaining, and enjoyable reading. The "fun factor" makes it easy to internalize the points he makes. His detailed instructions describing precisely how to create effective visuals and appealing presentations will improve the delivery of even seasoned presenters. In fact, the book would also be effective for those outside of law enforcement, as well as the intended audience. I highly recommend Police Instructor.
Anne Bremer, Managing Editor - Law Enforcment Today
A Great Resource for Law Enforcement Training
Police Instructor is a great resource for law enforcement trainers. The focus of this book is not what to teach, but how to do a better job of teaching the material we have. Richard Neil takes his responsibility as a law enforcement trainer very seriously and is committed to providing the best possible learning experience for his course participants. Regardless of the topic you teach there is something in this book that will assist you in creating an actively learning environment for your officers. The exercises described in the book are thought provoking and can be utilized as described or modified for officers regardless of their years of service. Richard Neil is to be applauded for his commitment to the law enforcement profession and for sharing his experiences and insights.
Brian Willis, Winning Mind Training & ILEETA Deputy Executive Director
I believe the recent publishing of POLICE INSTRUCTOR by Richard Neil is as important for the
training community as the first Street Survival manual was to law enforcement officers,
when it was first published.
As I read Police Instructor, I couldn't help but wish I would have had a resource like this when I started on my journey as an instructor for a Midewst natural resources law enforcement agency over two decades ago. If Police Instructor were published in my early years as a trainer, I could have taken years off my "Instructor Learning Curve".
NOT JUST FOR "POLICE" INSTRUCTORS: Officer Neil has given this work the title of "Police Instructor" because, I believe that is primarily where his heart is as a trainer - in a law enforcement agency, or a police academy. However, this work that he has authored has the potential to be incredibly valuable to educators in corrections, probation, parole, criminal justice studies, security, military, and those who contract with these entities for training. This includes local, county, state, federal, international and again, the growing community of training contractors.
WHY WE NEED "POLICE INSTRUCTOR": Officer Neil identifies why he wrote this manual for us: "We need trainers who will passionately serve to build the guardians of tomorrow and to help them understand the importance of their commitment. Without sacrifice there can be no justice. Without justice there can be no society." We need competent officers to protect our nation and our freedom. Those officers, the next generation, are crafted by trainers: The better the trainer, the better the training, the better the officer.
Contained within the pages of Police Instructor are numerous educational tools that can help the trainer achieve the multifaceted mission that most strive to attain. Officer Neil identifies some aspects of that mission as forming those we train into "guardians of justice" and another is simply to "train warriors".
However, as you move through Police Instructor, Officer Neil identifies other facets of the mission, "...to improve the safety of our law enforcers and the society that they serve through more effective training." Can that be? You can save a life of a LEO from your training classroom? Officer Neil challenges you, the instructor, to imporve your skills because the more the student takes from your presentation, the greater the chance that they will prevail when evil tries to defeat them.
THE WRITING STYLE OF OFFICER NEIL: Officer Neil has, in Police Instructor, used himself, his self-deprecating humor, his successes, and his failures to allow the reader to gain an understanding, trust, and bond with his experience. Neil's philosophy of instructing is demonstrated by his "Hey friend, let me help you with that" attitude that is evident throughout this work. He shares his knowledge and expertise of the chemistry of the training enviromnent with the reader. He helps you understand the elements of that chemistry: the instructor, the audience, physical facilities, multimedia development, time, teaching methods and more. He has evaluated, collected, and created methods of teaching that allow the instrucor to convey information ways that students will find much more learner friendly than traditional teaching methods.
FOR NEGATIVELY MOTIVATED INSTRUCTORS: If you know of an instructor whose motivation is based upon the "It's all about me" philosophy, or something similar ("Show me the money", "It's an 8 - 5 gig", "I am god and your're not", or an assignment where they can "hide"), encourage them to read Police Instructor, or buy them a copy. The challenges issued in Police Instructor will remind such an instructor of the high calling that they have, and hopefully draw out the commitment to the "greater good" within them.
FOR NEW INSTRUCTORS: After receiving their tranining credentials, some instructors may have the benefit of instructing with a good senior instructor or as a part of a team of good instructors. This is an excellent train-the-new-trainer process. However, declining revenue means reduced training budgets, and this means a new or developing instructor may not be able to team teach with a more exerienced instructor or mentor.
The more likely scenario is that the new instructor completes a 40 or 80 hour course, is given a certificate and a course outline, and then walks into an environment with 10 - 40 students. For the new instructor (and students), this method of self improvement is difficult at best, and it takes a lot of time. Reading Police Instructor helps the new instructor to overcome some of those challenges, and they are given a multitude of instructional tools and resourcse, all within a few evenings of reading.
FOR VETERAN INSTRUCTORS: I was born and raised in the district in which I serve. I have served as a "DNR" officer for over 27 years. Yet, when working my cases, I still occasionally look at a map or GPS unit. That tells me where where I've been, where I'm at, and where I'm heading. As an instructor, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to instruct with some incredable instructors. They have helped guide me on my journey to become a better instructor. Since I have read Police Instructor, as an instructor, I now have another map or resource to use a reference. Through Police Instructor, Officer Neil has allowed me to review where I have been, evaluate where I am at, and renew my committment to where I am heading; to continually improve my effectiveness as a Law Enforcement Trainer.
POLICE INSTRUCTOR is a significant contribution to all aspects of law enforcment and ciminal justice training. I have seen the results in my students - these techniques work!
Randy, Investigator, Department of Natural Resources
Unique Ideas that Will Capture the Attention of Any Class
As an officer for 32 years and a trainer for a quarter century, I've had many opportunities to pick up tidbits and strategies that work in adult learning environments. Unfortunately I had never found many of them in one place... until now. Richard H. Neil's book "Police Instructor: Deliver Dynamic Presentations, Create Engaging Slides, & Increase Active Learning" is filled with skills every law enforcement instructor should know. In addition to many techniques I have seen used effectively over the years, he adds unique ideas that will capture the attention of any class and provide true learning. Neil captures these techniques in an easy-to-read format using valuable personal experience as well as the right touch of humor. He boldly challenges the stereotypical macho, story-telling, know-it-all police instructor for a more effective model who develops students' trust and interest.
As a former police chief I understand the importance of role modeling behavior. "Police Instructor" is based on a foundation of core values. This critical element is often overlooked in instructor development and adult learning instruction. All of Neil's techniques pass the ethical role-model test. In fact many of his techniques not only provide effective learning, but models behaviors today's society demands in their police officers.
Ray Appel, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Training Officers Association of Wisconsin
Chief of Police - Neenah, Wisconsin (retired)