If you’ve never met him, you really ought to. I’m referring to an incredible leader and a thought-provoking instructor – Joe Willis. I am fortunate to call Joe my friend. I appreciate friends who are motivated and challenge me to better myself. That’s Joe.

This week Joe posted a question that really got me thinking and going down a couple rabbit holes. “Is law enforcement a profession?” A seemingly simple question but one that challenged me.

Bear with me as we walk down this path together. defines a profession as “a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science; any vocation or business; the body of persons engaged in an occupation or calling.”

Or how about this one from IACP. Law Enforcement is a profession that:
• Is dedicated to the service of others
• Requires personal commitment to service of others beyond the normal 8-hour day
• Requires of its practitioners specialized knowledge and skills
• Governs itself in relation to standards of admission, training and performance
• Has mechanisms to ensure conformance and disciplinary system to punish deviations
• Forms associations to improve their collective ability to enhance service to others
• Is guided by a code of ethics

It would stand to reason, at least to me, that those in a profession are professionals. defines a professional as one “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain; of, relating to, or connected with a profession; engaged in one of the learned professions.”

As I said, Joe’s question really got me thinking. And I started questioning myself. Am I a truly a professional that is contributing to this honorable profession? Confession time – I can’t always say that I am.

True professionals strive to be the best that they can be each and every day. Constant and consistent improvements are a way of life. Refusing to settle for anything less that total commitment and effort. These are the hallmarks of a professional.

But these don’t describe me – at least not all of the time. But they should. And, to be honest, I’m embarrassed to have to admit that. I need to do better. I must do better.

This is especially true because of my job as a trainer. Law enforcement trainers are some really special people. Most are dedicated, loyal, and true ambassadors for this profession. And they should be – because they have been entrusted with preparing the brave men and women in this profession for the perils that they will face. A humbling prospect to say the least.

The best way to improve the law enforcement profession is to invest in the professionals that make it up. The profession grows and becomes stronger when its members do the same. Trainers have a tremendous impact on how quickly and how well this happens.

Trainers – constant improvement. Read, study, research, practice, learn. Intentionally, consistently, purposefully become better every single day.

Finally, find someone who will push you. Someone who is an example of what you should be doing. Someone who is passionate. In other words, find yourself a Joe Willis. A good place to start is at Check out the incredible stuff he and his group are doing. You won’t be disappointed.

Thank you, Joe. For all that you have done and are doing for this profession. And thanks for being an example for me. Honorable man in an honorable profession.

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