Two great trainings … that only kind of go together

By Brian Klas
TDCAA Training Director in Austin

When I was kid growing up in what is now suburban juggernaut Mansfield, Texas, I often cut through the woods to get to a convenience store near the old Carnation plant.

It was a rural area with lots of creek crossings, abandoned appliances, biting insects, and dangerous older kids. Unlike the generic QuikTrips of today, with their product standardization and illusion of choice, my destination store had a true variety of drinks and snacks as well as an aisle or two of nonsense items. I was after stuff to eat, but I could have purchased any number of fake plants, calendars, Falco cassettes, fuel additives, pantyhose eggs, sewing patterns, age-inappropriate novelty pens, or candles. The only barriers were my lack of cash and my lack of desire to haul junk back through the woods—and I didn’t think they’d sell me the pens. 

            I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

            Occasionally, items would be taped together for sale. It wasn’t really a two-for-one but more of a “Hey, buy both these things” situation—and the pairs only kind of fit together. The aforementioned fuel additive might be bundled with windshield wiper blades. They are both car things, but I can’t imagine many people needed those two things at the exact same time. It only made a sort of sense to put them to together.

            Which brings me to why I’m writing:  to tell you about two trainings that only kind of fit together (like a stapler and glue). But unlike the convenience store of my youth, you don’t have to go to both—though you certainly can, and you would get great value for your time and money if you do!

Fingerprinting course in Austin

First, TDCAA has worked with the Investigator Board to bring back fingerprint training. We are in talks with a contract instructor as this issue of the journal goes to press, and we plan to offer 36 hours of TCOLE Course No. 3855 this summer. The goal is to qualify attending investigators to competently provide rolled-print comparison testimony in court. We know that proving up priors can become frustrating for everyone as you wait for a witness from a separate agency to come and make a print comparison, and having an on-staff investigator with that expertise will mean one fewer thing to worry about in the heat of trial.

            The fingerprint class will be June 8–12, and it will happen alongside our Organized Crime Conference here in Austin at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Registration, however, will be entirely separate, and the fingerprint training will be free, though attendees will be entirely responsible for their travel, hotel, and food, and there will be no reimbursements for those expenses. Because fingerprint courses are so hands-on (hahahahaha), attendance will be capped to ensure the quality of the training. Look for the registration to come online (at www.tdcaa.com/training) in March.

Fundamentals of Management in Austin

The second training event is the very first standalone Fundamentals of Management Course from our Prosecutor Management Institute (PMI). Since its debut a few short years ago, we have put hundreds of county and district attorney personnel through this training already, and reviews of the course have been overwhelmingly positive. In the past, the only way to attend this course was to organize a group of sufficient size, either all from one office or collected from several, and ask PMI trainers to travel to your jurisdiction. Because of office size, scheduling issues, and hiring issues, there have been many interested TDCAA members who have not been able to attend this course. We’ve considered offering this training here in Austin to accommodate those who can’t attend under the current model, and as a test, we put on a trial version of the training at our last Elected Prosecutor Conference, and it worked well. (To accommodate the attendees and the time-frame, we had to remove portions of the course, but we will return to the full training going forward.)

            If you want training on management and you want it delivered the way we’ve been doing it, you can still do that—information and directions can be found online at www.tdcaa.com/prosecutor-management-institute-pmi. If you missed PMI when it came to your county, can’t get a big enough group together, or can’t shut down a significant portion of your office for a week, then the standalone course in Austin is for you. Fundamentals of Management is for prosecutors and prosecutor’s office staff who are now or are expected to someday supervise personnel. In many respects the course is a close cousin to our Prosecutor Trial Skills Course, in that everyone should take it eventually, and I hope that it grows to that point.

            The standalone Fundamentals of Management Course will be held August 26–28 here in Austin. It is underwritten by the Texas District and County Attorneys Foundation, and the cost will be $500 per attendee. That fee covers online assessments for all students, materials, equipment, presenters, and coffee service. Attendees will be responsible for food, travel, and hotel. Because this is an intensely interactive, content-rich program, attendance will be capped at 25. Registration for this course will appear online at www.tdcaa.com in May.

            So now you know about these two not-quite-alike events that TDCAA will be offering in the near future. And see? They kind of go together.