We all know cops don’t like to sit in the front row of a classroom. As much as trainers complain about officers that sit at the back, you are no different. Go to any law enforcement trainers conference and the back rows there fill up first.
When I get people that voluntarily sit in the front rows I like to thank them for doing so. On more than one occasion officers have asked me “Are you going to pick on me if I sit here?” I explain to them that I do not pick on anyone during the presentation and would certainly not pick on someone who has the courage to sit in the front row.
Why would someone have to ask that question? The answer is simple. Because they have been picked on before, or watched other officers in class get picked on. If you want people to sit near the front then thank them, reward them, encourage them but do not pick on them.
I hear trainers complain about how hard it is to get cops to participate in class only to watch those same trainers embarrass people when they do participate. I have even seen trainers encourage someone to speak up by guaranteeing them “I won’t embarrass you” and as soon as the person spoke up the trainer embarrassed them. If you want people to participate in your class then thank them for their participation, acknowledge their contribution, ask followup questions to probe deeper into their answer but do not embarrass them.
It should bother you as a trainer that officers are concerned about getting singled out and picked on in training. If those in attendance are concerned about it you know there are people that stayed away because of it. If you are like me and you have been the one singled out and embarrassed in a class you know what I am talking about. No one likes to be embarrassed especially cops and especially in front of their peers.
As trainers you need to find ways to encourage people to attend training and make training so informative and enjoyable that they want to come back. If your practices include embarrassing people you need to ask yourself why? What is the benefit? Sure we have all done it at some time and everyone else gets a laugh out of it, but what is the educational benefit? In a risk versus gain analysis the risk is high, and the gain is low. The risk is that officers are reluctant to go to training if they are concerned about being singled out and embarrassed.