The View from the Other Side

By Al Simpson, PCI #165T/EMSCI #005T
Southeast Training Associates

My first conference was many years ago. I haven’t missed one since. I first started teaching at the conference in 2000, and have taught both pre-conference courses and conference workshops.  I have even attended several of them as a student. They were all interesting, informative and fun!

The one area I had never experienced was being part of the host agency committee. WOW! What a different view!

As an attendee to a conference, the most you may have to concern yourself with are things like booking your air flight, or deciding which roads to take to get to it.  Do I take both of my bikes or only one and maybe a couple of different sets of tires? Do I need my computer? How much should I practice my riding?  What classes should I take?

As an instructor of a pre-conference course, you obviously need to prepare your units of instruction. Do I need to update any of my PowerPoint presentations?  Do I need any special visual aids?

If you are the lead instructor of a pre-conference course, it gets even more interesting. You may have four other instructors plus yourself to whom you assign units of instruction.  So you ask them which one they want. Of course, you get at least a couple who want the same one. Then you have to decide which one does which unit the best because you want the students to get the most out of the training. Then, you need to consider seniority as part of the selection process. This doesn’t get any easier.

Then you find yourself in one of the hardest places: being part of the host committee!

Okay so you woke up one morning and found that during a “lapse of reason” you volunteered to be part of the Host Committee for an IPMBA Conference.  You ask yourself, “You did WHAT?” It is almost like waking up in Las Vegas, with a woman you don’t know, and she has a wedding ring on her finger and says, “good morning, husband!” WHAT have I done?!

Anyhow, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. When we started meeting to discuss the committee structure and what needed to be done first, we all kind of looked at each other, like we were thinking, “I thought you would know that!” The conference committee chairman, Doug Johnson, fortunately did grab the reins and decided who would do what.

As time went on, there were high spots and low spots.

High Spot…Everyone came to the table with upbeat, excited anticipation (which later turned to sheer fright).

Low Spot…Most of the people on the committee had never attended a conference, which made it difficult for them to understand how past conferences had been organized and how much work it would entail.

High Spot…The people involved in the committee were experienced officers who cared about the outcome.

Low Spot…Trying to set up an IPMBA Conference without having helped organize one is like coaching a team in a sport you have only watched.  That makes it tough.

One of the most troubling situations came when three of the organizations who pledged “big bucks” backed out at the last moment. However, others were found to chip in enough to make it possible to do what needed to be done to have a successful conference, as far as expenses were concerned.

Then the blues club that was supposed to host the post-competition party backed out just weeks before the conference. But our conference committee chairman came through again, securing a commitment from a sports club, just as close, to take care of us, and they did a fine job.

The majority of the committee meetings were attended by approximately five people. Other individuals came on board a few weeks before the conference to finalize certain areas, such as ride escorts, routes and other areas that were best left up to the IMPD personnel who were the experts in those areas.

The night before the pre-conference started, there was not a lot of sleep going on. Even though some of us live within 30 minutes of the conference site, a few of us stayed at the hotel most of the week.  Our families had to come by and visit us!

On the first day of the pre-conference, it seemed as if all of the committee members were strung tighter than a high string on a guitar.  Each of us was anxiously waiting to see if the things we were responsible for would just “fall into place”, and most of them did.  We had a few rough spots, but once we ironed them out, the rest of the event went really smoothly.

The success of an event is measured by what the attendees say about it.  Everyone I spoke with seemed to enjoy the training and had a good time. They all commented on the competition course and its venue, the White River State Park. They all thought the bike ride around the most famous race track in the United States was “awesome”.

Teaching, attending, and then helping to plan and run an IPMBA Conference has shown me that there are different views, depending on where you are standing.

But you know what?  Whatever your point of view, the IPMBA Conference is exciting, wonderful and a “learning experience”, which is what IPMBA is all about.  Learning!

A real “thanks” to the other members of the 2008 IPMBA Conference Committee who were the reason we all had a wonderful experience in Indianapolis: Committee Chairman Doug Johnson, IMPD; Brad Bolling, IMPD; Sgt. Brandon Laser, IMPD; Brent Denny, Indiana State University Police; Craig Campbell, Greenfield Police Department; Mike McKenna, Lawrence Police Department.

Al has been an IPMBA Instructor since 1996 and has taught at every IPMBA Conference since 2000.  He served on the IPMBA Board of Directors in the capacity of Education Director and has taught numerous Instructor Courses.  

© 2008 IPMBA.  This article appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of IPMBA News.

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