By Victor Pitman

If you watch or listen to the news, you know that today, more than ever, quality training is a key factor in sheriffs’ success in protecting his or her communities. As the program coordinator for the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, it is my goal to meet the training needs of Missouri’s 115 sheriffs and their staffs through several conferences and regional programs to be held throughout the year. Planning for 2019 is already well underway!

Two conferences – one in early spring and another in late summer – will provide sheriffs with networking opportunities and training from an overall mission and agency management point of view. Training topics under consideration include a legislative update, racial profiling, and medical marijuana. In Missouri, the operation of the county jail is the sheriff’s responsibility and undoubtedly provides one of the sheriff’s biggest budgeting and safety challenges, as well as one of the sheriff’s biggest liability challenges. To address those concerns, the annual MSA Jail Administrator’s Conference, set for May, will provide training on jail issues, leadership and operational trends. The Jail Standards and Training Committee was instrumental in setting conference program goals and developing a strong agenda for that conference.

Administrative assistants and staff are the unsung heroes of every sheriff’s office in the state. An Administrative Assistant’s Conference, planned for November, will focus on human resource management, networking resources and trends related to records retention, sex offender registration, CCW and all those administrative responsibilities that make everyone else’s mission success a possibility. An administrative assistant training committee is being formed to help improve interagency cooperation and develop training goals and objectives for their next conference.

In the past, the MSA has also conducted an annual chief deputy conference. However, we found that most chief deputies are focused on the overall organizational mission and attend the sheriff’s conference. This results in low attendance numbers at the chief deputy conference and duplication of programs. So instead, to better serve the needs of Missouri sheriffs, in October, the MSA will be conducting its first conference for deputies. Training will focus on investigative and communication skills, interview and interrogation techniques, forensic evidence collection, use of force issues, victims’ services and other similar topics.

These conference goals are just part of the picture. The MSA also continues to develop Continuing Law Enforcement Education training programs to take to each area of the state. New CLEE programs are also being added to MSA’s online Learning Management System, which, as of this fall, offered 80 different classes covering everything from general law enforcement to jails/corrections and victim-centered investigations. To date, more than 30,000 classes have been taken by law enforcement professionals. New programs to be implemented in coming months, include successful leadership, instructor development and other advanced skills.

As you can see, we have set high goals for 2019, but with your support and partnership, we will meet and hopefully, even exceed them. To track our progress, visit our website at www.mosheriffs.com and follow the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association Facebook page. We want you to be confident in knowing your membership dollars are being used efficiently and wisely. Thank you for the opportunity to join you in making Missouri communities strong and safe.