Hafa Adai

“Hafa Adai” is the traditional Chamorro greeting used in Guam and is generally accompanied by a warm smile that foreshadows the hospitality of the island.   Stateside, we often think our agency’s issues are unique to our own jurisdiction which is isolated from the rest of the contemporary policing issues.  A trip to our western-most U.S. Territory convinced me that this is not our reality.

NAFTO’s Training Coordinator Graham Tinius and I had the privileged opportunity to travel to Guam in January to instruct a 5-day FTO Symposium hosted by Guam Police Department.   Prior to the classes, Guam PD, arranged for us to participate in ride-a-longs during which we learned how different (calls are often dispatched using landmarks, not street address) and similar (interacting with the homeless) our jobs are despite being separated by over 6,000 miles.

During classes, we found that although the setting was unfamiliar, the topics of interest were not.  Like the students of our mainland classes, our discussions focused on topics such as: how do we get all our FTOs on the same page, how to we train peers that are 10-20 years younger than us, what can we do to foster greater support from our administration, and what can we do to recruit and select the best officers to be FTOs.

Takeaways from the weeks’ worth of instruction and discussion will form the foundation of Guam PD’s 21st Century FTO Program. FTOs were empowered to teach rather than serve as drill instructors, they were introduced to contemporary learning theories, and an exercise that demonstrates the power of knowing their audience as an FTO.  Supervisors discussed how to solicit the most thorough documentation without causing the process to interfere with training.  Senior Administrators were shown the big picture so they can best support the FTO program as it is executed under their command.  Perhaps the best part was the realization that much of what will make the most impact is “free”.

The daily grind of our profession can cause us to grow narrow-minded.  We tend to think our problems are unique to us, and therefore ours alone to solve.  We need to take time to step back and see the forest through the trees.  From this perspective, we can both give and receive the most help.  I challenge all that read this post to reach out to neighboring jurisdiction to discuss what issues they are currently experiencing with their FTO programs, and how those issues are being handled.  NAFTO would love to share your success stories with the FTO Community.