“How do I get more search and seizure training?”

Back in San Antonio, at TDCAA’s Annual Civil & Criminal Law Update, an attendee asked me, “Who should I talk to about getting more search and seizure training?” Oh man. I instantly thought of the stapler-high stack of my business cards I left back at TDCAA HQ. As always, they were perched on the edge of the broken glass covering my desk top. (A mystery still surrounds the circumstances that led to the broken glass.) The cards will tell you that I am the Training Director for TDCAA, and they were 100 miles away and not in my pocket. What a perfect moment to have handed the curious attendee my card with a flourish and say, “Why, I’m the person to talk to!” We would have laughed together at his question and my immediate answer. Such a missed opportunity.
    Then I began to wonder if I’d failed to make enough of an impact at the start of the conference. After all, I’d been the first person to address the crowd, welcome everyone to San Antonio, and introduce the conference. I was sure I had made a joke about the color of the paper evaluations, but this person still was unsure of who to talk to about training. I am fairly certain I never answered his question. During the following nights of sleepless self-reflection, I’ve come to suspect that some of you may not know how TDCAA develops the bulk of its training. Here, then, is how you get more search and seizure training.
    In the last issue of the journal (you can re-read it here: https://www.tdcaa.com/journal/long-last-management-training-masses), I discussed our training questionnaires. Remember, those are the forms we collect from attendees at each conference letting us know where their biggest training needs lie. I read the responses and begin to generate a list of ideas. In addition to the data from questionnaires, I collect ideas emailed to me from prosecutor offices around the state. I also comb through our old training materials as well as training events put on by other organizations.
    Then what? Enter TDCAA’s boards and committees. If you’ve seen Office Space, you know that there needs to be someone to take the information from the customers (you) to the engineers (our board and committee members). I’m that guy! Board members are elected by our membership and represent each of our eight geographic regions. We have three boards: our Board of Directors, an Investigator Board, and a Key Personnel & Victim Services (KP-VS) Board. For the latter two boards, elections are open to members of each group and take place at their dedicated yearly training events (Investigator School in February and the KP-VAC Seminar in November). Those boards typically meet twice a year to plan both their respective conferences and their training track for the Annual Update.
    In addition to our three boards, we also have committees made up of members who are recommended to, and ultimately appointed by, the sitting TDCAA Board President. Training is planned by the Civil Committee and Training Committee. Like boards, these committees meet periodically to plan the Civil Law Seminar, two yearly specialty schools, and the remaining portions of the Annual.
    As you read this, we will have held fall meetings in Austin with the Civil Committee, Investigator Board, and Training Committee. We will have developed a working agenda for the 2018 Civil Law Seminar, the 2018 Investigator School and the two 2018 specialty schools. Each member of these Boards and Committees will have put their day job on hold to develop this training. They will have spoken to their colleagues about their training needs, and they will have come ready to Austin ready with ideas for topics and presenters. In many cases, they will have volunteered their time to build a PowerPoint and present the topic themselves. Your peers will have done all of this after sifting through materials I’ve provided containing your recommendations. I cannot say enough about the time and effort our board and committee members expend in the name of needs-driven training. Without their work, we would be reduced to an organization whose training is dictated entirely by internal navel-gazing or the grant opportunity of the week.
    Soooo, how do you get more search and seizure training? Well, it turns out there are lots of ways to go about it. You can tell me you want it—in person or by email. You can write it on a questionnaire after one of TDCAA’s many training opportunities. You can tell board or committee members that you need even more search and seizure training than we already provide. Frankly, the absolute best way to spur on your training goals is to be part of the training. Discuss trouble areas with colleagues, and keep lines of communication open with your peers in other jurisdictions. If only one person is aware of a training need, the training will likely never occur. If you see the need, find opportunities to train in your office. I’m always happy to forward training material out to our membership.