Law enforcement gathers for annual training conference

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Carl C. Morgan Convention Center has been filled with law enforcement officers the last two days for the 22nd annual Law Enforcement Training Conference.

Officers and agents from more than 20 different local, state and federal law enforcement agencies were in town for the conference that was put on by District Attorney Michael Jackson’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Selma Police Department and the F.B.I.

Tommy Loftis, public affairs specialist and law enforcement liaison with the F.B.I., said the conference is a way for agencies to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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“It’s just an opportunity for the federal partners to kind of reach out and make sure that our state and local partners know exactly what’s going on and what the priorities are now and what’s changing,” he said.

The training was Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission certified for continuing education units as well as executive level training. Loftis said officers trained on a variety of topics over the last two days.

“We’ve done some gang training, we’ve done courtroom testimony type training for law enforcement here, we had ATF come in and do a presentation for cataloguing their firearms casings and ballistics,” he said.

Training also included presentations from the DEA about pill mills as well as the U.S. Border Patrol.

While the conference is a good way for officers to stay up to date, it is also a way for them to build and maintain relationships with other local, state and federal agencies.

“You get a chance to hook with each other, and if you don’t know each other you get a chance to make contact with each other, and then when you need them, you can call on them,” said Larry Colston, commander of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force. “I might need help in an area, or they might need help. It works out really good. Everybody gets a chance to meet each other and know each other and out a face with the name.”

Loftis said it also lets state and local agencies know about the help they can get from federal agencies.

“The takeaway is the accessibility, and if you don’t take advantage of that, then that’s on you,” Loftis said. “As a local and state police officer, if you’re struggling with a resource issue and you don’t take away all the phone numbers you’ve been given here and all the personal relationships that you can build, then that’s a you issue.”