Law Officer’s 2012 Trainer of the Year award generated a lot of interest and nominations this year, but the winner was clear. Nominated multiple times by trainers throughout North America, this year’s award goes to John Bostain, a program specialist for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
Bostain distinguished himself by not only being a premier trainer but by taking Below 100 to the masses. During the past year, he’s trained more than 2,000 officers in several states on the initiative. He’s known for keeping a grueling work schedule, often squeezing in an additional training session on travel days so that he can reach more officers—truly, service beyond self.
I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
Stockton: What was your first thought on being named Trainer of the Year?
Bostain: To thank my mentor, Scott Keller. He was my field training officer. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him.
Stockton: How so?
Bostain: He spent extra time with me and taught me how to shoot. I improved so much that I later became a range instructor. Someone thought that if my shooting could improve that much (from low 70s to high 90s) that I could teach others to do it. That started me on the training path and training has become a huge part of my career. I would never have had that opportunity if Scott hadn’t invested the time in me to help me improve so much. It all started with him taking his own time to help me.
Stockton: What would your advice be to a new or aspiring trainer?
Bostain: Three things. One, seek out excellence. Look for role models both inside and outside your agency. I strongly encourage connecting with the ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association). There’s no better place to develop your skills.
Two, develop resilience. Learn to deal with challenges. You’ll be faced with challenges and adversity, especially if you’re trying to change a culture like we’re doing with Below 100. If you don’t have resilience to carry you forward, you’ll get frustrated. Find others who have persevered successfully and learn from them.
Three, always ask yourself, “Why do I know what I think I know?” Your answer should be based on what the research says, what the evidence says and what the law says. It’s important that we establish and maintain a culture of evidence-based trainers. The days of training that relies on urban legends should be gone.