There are many TOA type organizations around the country. Most states offer them, for example, the MTOA that we covered last year with SDI and the largest the NTOA, which represents officers across the country.
Most of these events are rather small offering a smattering of booths that highlight police specific products and some training courses. What many do not know is tucked in among the flat lands of rabid Buckeyes fans is the better-kept secret of the training industry.
The OTOA Conference hosted almost 1000 officers over a one week period at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky Ohio earlier this month. Having attended it, I see why this conference is grown year over year.
Any good conference is packed with workshops that attendees do their best to avoid. Hell, I have spoken at several conferences and still not seen the inside of the rooms that I didn’t make a speech in. Mostly because industry specific education is falling on ears of people who too often either know it all already or who think they do. This was not the case in Sandusky. The Monday conferences were packed full of people and rightfully so.
In-depth information was provided by multiple branches of laws enforcement ranging from Dallas PD, who shared information on the Dallas PD station attack, FBI agents discussing hostage rescue, Coverage of the Aurora Theatre shooting and more followed by a great meal and fellowship. That was only on the first day.
The real meat and potatoes started on day 2 with breakout sessions on specific topics from medical training that included a free tourniquet thanks to Nationwide Insurance, administrative, dispatch, CQB, legal action and even estate planning for those who put their lives on the line. In all, there were over 42 tracks of instruction available for attendees.
The vendor show on Tuesday showcased some of the best companies in the industry supporting local law enforcement. Over 200 vendors gathered to give one on one interaction with the guys who use their products. Unlike many industry events, the booths were not packed with sales reps and marketing people. Many on hand were product development people, engineers, trainers and CEO’s who worked with officers to discuss actual use, not fancy gimmicks.