DAF expands training for civilian Defender force 

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Department of the Air Force, Air Force Security Forces Center and the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Law Enforcement Training Center have partnered to expand essential training for its civilian Defender force.  

Recently, they conducted an 80-hour beta test of a Civilian Law Enforcement Officer Supervisors’ Course at the VA training center in Little Rock, Arkansas, to deliver supervisory and managerial training for all civilian or military supervisors new to managing employees in the 0083 Police Officer career series. 

“Since the inception of the security forces civilian police program, we’ve identified many challenges and, although the Department of Defense and DAF provide specific managerial training, performing management activities in the first responder and non-standard duty realm can be complicated,” said Patrick Wilson, AFSFC Developmental Training Branch chief.  

In 2020, Security Forces leadership identified key initiatives to promote the professional development of their civilian workforce. With targeted strategies, they are improving retention, recruitment and training in achieving the strategic goal of “professionalizing” the career field.  

The new supervisory course, along with other training opportunities, were accelerated with the support of Sakeithea “Kay” Rodgers, Law Enforcement Civilian Career Field manager. Rodgers joined the Office of the Director of Security Forces in February 2022. Since then, her focus has been on reshaping and reviving the police officer career field.  

“Great leaders lead by example,” Rodgers said. “If we as leaders have decided that training is our path to success, then it is imperative that we humble ourselves despite our experiences and become students of the craft.”  

“She is committed to the professional development of the GS-0083 civilian career field,” Wilson said, “and she directed the stand-up of the course ... part of the continuum of learning and professional development for civilian Defenders.” 

Like other professional military education for uniformed Airmen and Guardians, the new 80-hour, two-week course “fills a need and exposes new civilian Defender supervisors to management challenges and scenarios they might encounter, with the goal of setting them up for success in their new management roles,” Wilson said. 

With the unique nature of the civilian Defender career field, “the ultimate goal is to enhance the professional development of civilian Defenders, similar to both officer and noncommissioned officer corps PMEs, to deliver a more trained and skilled police officer capable of defending DAF installations,” said Juan Thomas, AFSFC Home Station Training manager.   

“We not only want our supervisors to see examples of great leadership, we want them to understand appropriate boundaries, coverage and resources available to them as they navigate new territory,” Rodgers added. 

With the beta test now complete, AFSFC is preparing to brief results and recommendations to Rodgers for review and approval for widescale implementation. Once approved, AFSFC will work with VA LETC to codify and make any required changes.  

AFSFC and VA LETC collectively understand the impact of effective and efficient training, Wilson said, and are equally committed to ensuring the new course is properly aligned with Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation standards, and national professional and academic standards. 

The course is expected to be available enterprise-wide summer 2024.