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Take Ownership of Your Professional Life

Take Ownership of Your Professional Life

There was a time when an eager officer longing for more training opportunities could blame the training request denial on not being one of the “golden children” of the administration in power. With the advent of the economic downturn and a new era for law enforcement budgeting, denials have become the norm, rather than the exception.

Training for law enforcers has become rather widely accepted as a means to enhance service to the community, minimize agency liability, and arm crime fighters with the knowledge they need to more effectively do their job and stay safe.

The last point is particularly vital given the exploding war on cops taking place. Numerous shootings have dominated the headlines and underscored the dangerous nature of policing. It has been a deadly year for law enforcement professionals.

So, what’s the solution to the dearth of training request refutations? The answer lies in the idea that law enforcement professionals are just that: professionals. Professionals in other fields, such as law and medicine, have long grabbed onto the notion that ultimately it is they who are responsible for their professional development. If an employer cannot or will not pony up the bucks for course fees, time away from the workplace, or travel expenditures, it is the professional that does so.

While it would be terrific if the employing governmental entity would step up with the funds, the reality is many are not, whether legitimately or not, citing the economic downturn. The true professional moves on with plan B realizing that they need to fill the void since the training makes a large difference for them. That couldn’t be truer than the law enforcer of today with the highest stakes imaginable at play.

So, here you are. Your agency is denying your requests for training. Beyond the required firearms qualification and mandatory training refreshers on use of force, etc., they won’t budge citing budget cuts. What’s an eager police officer or deputy sheriff to do? You need to take ownership of your professional life. Here are a few suggestions on how to do so.

1) Buddy Share. You may be able to cut the personal monies you need to shell out to go to a course by spreading some of the costs among more than one person. Find a like-minded person from your area. Perhaps you could take turns driving and share costs to a distant training location.

2)Regularly Check Course Schedules. Not all courses all the time cost big bucks. Check regularly for special pricing. Websites like provide regular training schedules.

3) Grants. Often cited, but little understood, grants are a great way to secure funding apart from the agency’s fiscal constraints. Local businesses are an often overlooked source for support.

4) Fundraisers. Assuming that departmental approval is nailed down and local regulations are adhered to, a community fundraiser to send officers to training is yet another route. In order to get community support and media coverage, it should be on a topic that is of import to the community at large or has a big “cool factor.” Raising funds for K-9 programs and training is a prime example of a great mass appeal professional development tactic.

5) Community College. Check with your local community college or police training facility. They often hold courses that are much lower costs as the expense is subsidized by the college district funds.

6) Online Coursework. Many websites are now offering online coursework in the form of podcasts, videos, and other forms of distance learning. Long coveted for its flexible delivery schedule, sometimes web-based courses have lower costs as well (especially when you can eliminate the cost of travel, per diem, and hotel).

The “new normal” is an era when government fiscal expenditures has drastically cut into monies previously used for police professional development. Many officers have been laid off and departments have shuttered their doors. At the same time, demands for police services and the dangers of the job have never been more ubiquitous. It is the law enforcement professional that takes control of his or her knowledge-centered life that will continue to provide value to employers, their agencies, their families, and themselves.

Generally speaking, training expenditures related to your professional development are tax deductible. However, you need to check with your tax professional for your particular circumstances. And you should hope that your accountants go to professional development courses whether their bosses pay for it or not. It is their responsibility to be sure to be the best, most knowledgeable professional that they can be for their clientele. And so it is your responsibility to do likewise; perhaps even more so. After all, an accountant does not have the same high stakes that law enforcer does.

Dr. Richard Weinblatt, “The Cop Doc,” is a former police chief, ex busy jurisdiction patrol deputy sheriff, and criminal justice educator who has written articles and provided media commentary since 1989. He can be reached via

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    about 3 years ago


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  • Joe_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I can relate as a federal agent there is little to no money right now for professional development. For what its worth I am teaching a Law Enforcement/Military only combatives class at a local gym in June. I don't make any money off of it and am only charging cost for training materials and the program fee. If you are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and are interested, shoot me an email at Hope this helps some of you.

  • Justice-400_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I work for a VERY small VERY low population tribal department. The idea of a K9 handler still has been thrown around after everyone goes to and graduates from the academy. I would have no problem with contributing some money to the program myself.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Very helpful and detailed article.

  • File0106_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Get as much training as possible. Especially with the war on cops. Yeah the economy is in a squeeze but take and pay for it. Don't see it as a want but as a need so you can get home at the end of your shift.

  • P1010058_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I have recieved training on things and got certified for them. The department that i work for wont allow me to use what i have been certified on. Guess What? Im bettering myself for another Department that uses all my certifications and respects the issue that I have gone and better myself. If there is training for something, take it, if the department cant afford it. U Pay for It but get it.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Do what ya gotta do. If that means your own time and money then do it. You may want to make a move and if you show that you have the desire and drive to do your own thing that may mean a real chance for advancement. Remember they can take the job but they cant take what you know.

  • Weinblattmsnbc_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Agreed, Collegecop_WA... especially on Calibre Press' Street Survival with Dave (J.D. Buck Savage) Smith and Betsy Brantner Smith. They are the best!

  • Policememorial---a_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Some of the best training I ever went to was on my time and on my dime. Street Survival is a prime example, I go every two years when it is here in WA state and I take vacation time to go and pay for it myself. I am saving up right now to go take one of the courses they offer at Thunder Ranch just to experience how they do things and to add that training to my tactical bag of skills.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Law enforcement is not a M-F, 9-5 job. It's 24x7x365 and faced with deep budget cuts. Your training needs should be met on your terms. The Law Enforcement And Public Safety Network offers on-line, on-demand training 24x7x365. Training on your schedule and offered at no cost or very modest cost. The web site is and offers 8 distinct training channels. All programs are offered at no cost to sworn professionals and many offer an optional on-line test, a printable certificate, and registration of earned CEUs. Visit the web site and you decide. --John Kies-- LEAPS.TV

  • Weinblattmsnbc_max50


    over 4 years ago


    1baggdHD and rhood: That is terrific. I give you both credit for the professional attitude you both have towards your career and your safety. Excellent!

  • Maa_class_badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    same here, i have no problem at all paying for the training that i would receive.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I have no problem with paying for training that I want.

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