Condensed History of IALEFI by Mike Beckley, Board Member
The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, Inc. (IALEFI) was founded in March of 1981 in Chickapee Falls, MA by Special Agent Charlie Smith who ran the FBI firearms instructor training program at Camp Smith, New York from 1954 through 1969. Charlie had a long standing idea that there should be an organization representing law enforcement firearms instructors.
I, as Commanding Officer of the Firearms Training Unit for the Nassau County Police Department, NY, along with 60 others from all over the country gathered and decided to form IALEFI.
The first Annual Training Conference (ATC) was held in October 1981 at which time we established by-laws and elected the following officers:
Ed Madocks - President (US Postal Service)
Mike Beckley - 1st Vice President (NCPD),
Elizabeth Callahan - 2nd Vice President (Washington Metro PD)
Kevin Delia - 3rd Vice President (Civilian)
Henry Kudlinski - Secretary (Smith & Wesson Academy)
Steve Hofman - Treasurer (Civilian)
Annual dues were $15.00.
In 1983 at the Annual Training Conference in Birmingham, Al, Bob Hunt, Director of the Smith & Wesson Academy and retired Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police, was elected President.
In 1985 the first training criteria committee was established and I served as chairman of the committee.
The first Regional Training Conference was held July 14-15, 1985 at the Detroit Metro Police Academy hosted by Lt. Ron Hackney.
By 1987 membership had grown to over 1,000.
In February 1989 Elizabeth “Libby” Callahan stepped down as our Executive Director after having served in that position for five years. Libby, was a Lt with Washington Metro PD and a three-time winner of the women’s division of the NRA National Police Shooting Championships. Libby pulled the organization out of a deep hole it was in when she took over. She served us well as a Board member; she hosted two ATCs, and was a presenter at many of our conferences. It should be noted that Libby was a member of three United States Olympic Teams as a shooter.
In June 1989, the Board of Directors appointed Robert D. Bossey, a Major with the New Hampshire State Police, as our Executive Director. Bob served in that capacity until 2016, stepping down after twenty-seven years. Bob provided outstanding leadership, guidance and direction throughout his tenure. Bob’s vision of where we should be going guided the progress of this Association in so many valuable ways. In 2016, Mark Fettinger, recently retired as a manager with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, was hired by the Board of Directors to become only our third Executive Director. Mark serves in that capacity today.
In February 1990 IALEFI published the Tactical Firearms Manual to compliment the IALEFI Firearms Training Standards manual developed by Lt. Mike Beckley in 1984. In 1992 Emanuel Kapelsohn, a member of the Board of Directors, working with other members of the Firearms Training & Standards Committee reworked the Training Standards Manual and we published it in 1984 along with the Standards & Practices Reference Guide edited by the late Prof. Preston Covey from Carnegie Mellon University.
Since then IALEFI has published a 2004 revision to the Firearms Training Standards Guide and the Guidelines for Simulation Training Safety.
In May of 1991 IALEFI switched from the “Newsletter” to a magazine format. The Firearms Instructor provided much more detailed articles with color pictures and more sponsor advertisement.
In Sept. of 1991 at our ATC in Mesa, AZ, Bob Hunt stepped down as President of IALEFI after serving eight years in that capacity. Bob took us through a most challenging period of our history. He placed the emphasis on training and pushed to have the various publications we now enjoy to become a reality.
At the 1991 Annual Training Conference, I was elected President with Frank Repass elected as First Vice President, John Meyer Second VP, Manny Kapelsohn Third VP, Tony Januzelli Secretary and Bob Bossey Executive Director and Treasurer.
At the 1996 ATC in Mesa, AZ, the Safety Committee, chaired by Manny Kapelsohn, introduced the “handgun safety check”. The purpose of the check was to ensure that all attendees were able to demonstrate basic safe handgun skills before they were permitted to attend any live fire exercises. The safety check was well received by all attendees and was extended to the Regional Training as well.
In 1998, through the efforts of the Board of Directors, especially Board Member John Meyer, IALEFI established a scholarship fund to assist law enforcement firearms instructors in need of financial assistance and who had contributed to firearms training in their area, to attend an ATC. Since that time approximately 50 scholarships have been awarded.
While Mike Beckley was President, the purchase of a permanent office building came to fruition as well as the purchase of our first truck and trailer utilized to transport training equipment to the ATC thus reducing the cost of shipping and guaranteeing that the equipment would arrive on time. These projects were successful thanks to the tireless work of Executive Director Bob Bossey. It should be noted that at the 2016 Annual Training Conference in Mobile, AL, Bob announced to the membership that the mortgage on our office complex was paid in full and IALEFI now owned this property out right. A huge step for an organization whose roots begin with only 60 people.
At the 2000 ATC in Tampa FL, Mike Beckley stepped down as President and Steve Johnson of the North Carolina Justice Academy was unanimously elected as IALEFI’s fourth President. With the outstanding working relationship between Steve and Bob Bossey as well as the IALEFI staff of Kim Bossey and Linda Davis, several things were accomplished. The ATC Registration and Business Meeting were streamlined, the Firearms Instructor magazine became an electronic magazine to save money, a website was created with a “Members Only Forum”, the size of the truck and trailer grew substantially to support the acquisition of our fixed assets, the office acquired a large number of items to include computer equipment, training equipment, LED projectors, just to name a few, and the inventory and sales of IALEFI emblem products grew enormously and began to show a substantial profit. During Steve’s tenure, our organization continued to grow to over 3,000 members. During this period IALEFI launched the Master Instructor Development Program developed by Mike Boyle and the IALEFI Firearms Instructor Course was developed by a committee chaired by Ken Farren.
After sixteen years as President, Steve Johnson stepped down in 2016 and Mike Dunlap, a retired Sergeant from the Amarillo, Texas PD, was elected as IALEFI’s fifth President.
IALEFI has led the way in the transition training from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols in the mid-1980s to force-on-force simulation training, and has partnered with the NRA, LEAD, ASLET, ILEETA and NTOA in advancing the professional standards in law enforcement training. The impact of this organization far exceeds the boundaries of the United States, as our International members continue to come from all over the world. Each year we see members from China, Hong Kong, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Trinidad-Tobago, Hungary, Austria and many other nations attend our training programs.
The Annual Training Conferences continue, the Regional Training Conferences continue, the Firearms Instructor magazine is still here. We as an organization are still here thanks to so many of our dedicated members.
Thirty-seven years and still going strong.