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Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer

You don’t have to like the President, but you would have to agree that he probably makes decisions based on volumes of information not privy to the common citizen. You don’t have to like your boss, but you would have to agree that he probably is answering to a lot of people and sees things from a totally different perspective than you. Ultimately both of these people may make poor decisions, but hopefully it is not because of a lack of knowledge. In truck enforcement, there is a whole lot of knowledge to be learned. What has become readily apparent is those who consciously seek out the best, authoritative information make the best decisions that protect the public and are fair to industry. The ITEA is going to elevate truck enforcement quality through increased knowledge at its new 40-hour Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer class the week of October 21st. Here’s why…

Truck law in Illinois, and nationwide for that matter, is immensely complex. The sheer variety of trucks, trailers, commodities, materials and industries dependent upon surface transportation is gigantic. There was once a static law, but over time it has been modified and excepted time and time again to accommodate the nuances. This is all for good reason, but it does not mean knowledge is easy.

The Illinois Vehicle Code has nearly 80 pages of truck law. The printed edition of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations has over 600 pages. The Illinois Administrative Code is impossible to count as there is no official printed copy…it’s so big it’s online only. Then every municipality, township and county has unique ordinances regulating trucking. The reality is no one man can wrap his head around all of this.

Truck enforcement education has created three tiers of police officers. The first is those who receive basic training and do little or no enforcement afterwards. Armed with a little knowledge and a lot of authority, these are the ones who make the costliest mistakes. Unfortunately, this group represents the bulk of police officers who receive basic truck enforcement training.

The second group of officers receives basic training and participates in truck enforcement for a longer period of time, but they are unable to dedicate themselves to truck enforcement because of other responsibilities. This group makes up the bulk of the ITEA membership. Truck law is perishable knowledge and the ITEA seeks to resource and train this group in real time and on a continual basis.

The third group starts with basic training and becomes dedicated, full-time truck enforcement officers for many years. This group represents a smaller portion of the ITEA, but the ranks are growing. The purpose of the Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer class is to encourage police officers to maximize their talents and reach their full potential.

Does this mean officers who are attending this class are learning new and sophisticated ways to stick it to the trucking industry? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge a police officer has about trucking, the better he can enforce it. That knowledge produces quality police work. The more an officer understands the industry, the more he can appreciate the compliance hurdles the industry must jump over. That knowledge produces compassionate police work. The more diversified training the officer receives, the more uniform his enforcement becomes. That knowledge produces well-rounded police work.

The best, highest quality, most fair and uniform enforcement comes when police officers are invested in the knowledge of trucking. The model for local truck enforcement training the last 30 years has been to briefly train them on the basics of weight law and kick them out the door. Oh sure they can come back one day for a “refresher” class, but that provides nothing but review. Shouldn’t the goal be to move the ball down the field instead of looking in the rearview mirror?

Knowledge comes in layers. Basic training. Networking with other officers. Accountability. Elective certification. Authoritative resources. Open forum for discussion. Industry interaction and partnership. Annual conferences. Specialized training. And now this…advanced training.

The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board has approved this class. It’s available for 50% reimbursement ($200) and is limited to fifteen officers. A great prophet once said that his people “were destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Let that not be said of these two great professions working together.

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