The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 18, 2013

Good lessons

Police training helps officers but is relevant to us all

— The ability to make learning a life-long quest is vital to us all. But it may even more so for one particular group — law enforcement.

That need for new ideas and knowledge came to Raleigh County this week in seminars attended by hundreds of officers from all over West Virginia, while the state’s sheriffs were undergoing training of their own.

At The Resort at Glade Springs, the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association received instruction on how criminals use today’s technology to help them stay ahead of police.

Facebook, MySpace —yes, apparently it’s relevant again — smartphones, all help perpetrators commit their offenses.

But savvy police can use those same methods to help track down the criminal element. Using social media can lead law enforcement to the places where criminals hang out and to potential witnesses.

Trainers say that law enforcement is good at “using yesterday’s technology tomorrow,” but his point is one officers should take to heart.

Don’t be resistant to using all of the tools available — including technology and its offspring to help stay abreast of the criminal element.

For officers attending the Street Survival seminar at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, the focus was to help officers become aware of the unique role stress plays in their work and how that stress can take its toll. Many officers keep their feelings inside, said Lt. Jim Glennon, director of training for LifeLine Training and Calibre Press. They try to force their way through the stress.

It’s not good to be so stoic, the officers were told. It can lead to any of the four most common ways people in law enforcement can die a premature death. Suicide is the most common, along with felonious assault, on the roadway or by heart attack.

Holding on to all that stress can impact decisions and the ability to think goes down. That can lead to bad decisions or inattention to detail. And it could mean an officer’s life.

We applaud Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner for bringing the trainers to Beckley. He says it has boosted inter-agency morale and trust, which leads to better cooperation among law enforcement and better service to the community overall.

And while that is a fine outcome, we recommend that everyone read through today’s story on the police training by reporter Jessica Farrish. While aimed at police, these are lessons we can use in our daily lives. Stress can be a killer to all of us.

They are life lessons we could all take to heart.