Knowledge is Power

In the fight against serious and organized crime in Alberta, knowledge is power. Law enforcement officials not only have to keep up with what criminals are doing, but also with the legislation that governs how they do their jobs. And it’s never a bad idea to catch up with colleagues and compare best practices.

This is where ALERT Training comes in.

ALERT Training provides learning opportunities for law enforcement personnel across Alberta that help them do their jobs and protect the public in the most efficient, effective ways possible. This could include anything from training on new technology to courses specific to a professional designation or a specialized job role.

ALERT Training Acting Manager Leila Andrews

“Training is a crucial part of our relationships and our working partnerships with other agencies. If you look at ALERT’s business, we’re a joint forces operation, so it makes natural sense for our training to follow suit. It’s really beneficial for our members who are now given training opportunities with greater diversity, to be able to learn from different agencies with different challenges, different resources,” said ALERT Training acting manager Leila Andrews.

“Just having the ability to have that joint force training makes us a stronger law enforcement community, where we can come together. Agencies are training using similar concepts and similar language, and to be able to network with one another, I think it’s really invaluable.”

ALERT Training typically puts on 16 to 20 courses per year, split between the fall and spring semesters. The course subjects for the year are set out in a needs assessment done every January, which helps identify current knowledge gaps among members.

In addition, ALERT Training also periodically hosts larger events, like two-day fentanyl and cannabis symposiums in Edmonton and Calgary in 2018. As well, Andrews was busy over the past year spearheading the development of ALERT’s first full in-house curriculum build, designed to bring new employees up to speed on the organization’s disclosure software, whether in a classroom session or one-on-one.

“I have been in law enforcement training and education for the last 13 years, so I have developed multiple programs for other agencies, but this was the first for ALERT, which is exciting,” Andrews said. “It’s a good accomplishment for us. We now have a fully developed in-house program that we own; there’s defensible curriculum and student resources to be used. It’s a really neat accomplishment.”

It was no easy task, though. Andrews estimates more than 160 hours of work went into designing the four-hour workshop curriculum, with edits, updates, pilot sessions and instructor training tacking on even more hours.

“Having the ability to have that joint force training makes us a stronger law enforcement community.”

—ALERT Training Acting Manager Leila Andrews

“It’s one of those things that’s like an iceberg; you see a little bit of it, but you don’t realize how much goes on behind the scenes,” she said.

With any of ALERT Training’s courses, finding instructors to teach them is one of the biggest challenges. “Subject matter expertise is limited, and it also takes a significant amount of time to become a subject matter expert,” Andrews said. “So when we look at our courses and look at our resources, we are quite limited, which means there is maybe a handful of people that would be a content expert, to be able to provide content for course development or to teach. Those instructors are usually shared among the agencies, so then this person is being asked by three or four other police agencies to teach the same courses, so now their time is of the essence.”

But, she adds, ALERT Training is actively working to create better development opportunities to build instructor knowledge, and to try to expand instructor pools with the staff ALERT and other agencies have.
Moving forward, Andrews sees lots of potential for ALERT Training to continue leading the way in law enforcement training, especially when it comes to delivering courses online.

“It would be amazing to see ALERT start to embrace technology in the classroom, and maybe move into the world of e-learning, mobile learning, and integrating as much technology as we can so that learning can come out of a classroom and can go right into the field with our members,” she said.