AAR OTOA Conference 6/3 -6/7 2019


Network Support I
So this took me a little longer than I'd like to get up, but thought I'd post a little AAR of the Ohio Tactical Officers Association 2019 Conference for anyone who didn't attend but might consider it in the future. I've give the TLDR up front, YOU SHOULD ATTEND. With that out of the way a little background, many of you know, I'm from Pittsburgh, so the conference, which is located at the Kalahari Hotel and Waterpark in Sandusky OH is about a 2 1/2 hour drive for me. This is the third year I've been to the event, and I've watched it grow progressively to a point it now eclipses all other swat organizations conferences. This is also the first year I've motivated some other guys from my team to also attend, and hopefully next year, we'll get the bulk of the team to go.

The hotel itself is great, if I have any advice it's to make sure you book early enough to get the block rate for your rooms as they are HEAVILY discounted. I ended up getting a suite and having my wife and kids come up mid week and use the waterpark while I took classes. The conference center is large enough, well laid out, and a short walk from the rooms. The town of Sandusky is also home to Cedar Park, the amusement park, and as such there is a wealth of restaurants and virtually anything else you could need during the week. The conference itself is a well run affair, and I cant credit Pat Fiorelli, the OTOA's President enough, all the OTOA staff work full time cop jobs and still manage to pull off the logistics of the conference which have a lot of moving parts.

Day 1 consisted of a general session meeting, followed by a number of incident debriefs in the conference hall. Among these were a particularly thorough one of the Las Vegas police officer murders, and what was probably the highlight for most of the audience, Jared Reston's debrief of his OIS. Although I have heard him speak about it several times, this was the first time I've heard the entire presentation in person and it was phenomenal. The two other dudes from my team were in agreement that if Day 1 of the conference was all there was, it would have been worth the cost to attend. Following the general session, a hospitality event and barbecue was held outside the hotel, it was a nice way to end the first day and everyone got to socialize and network a bit.

Day 2 was the trade show, again at the conference center. In particular, I had watched this grow from year to year, it now spans the entire conference area with virtually everyone who's anyone having a booth. It was nice to get to talk in person to folks I've conversed with for years by email, and see some familiar faces again in person. I bumped into fellow 'burgher JW Ramp at his booth, the good folks a SOLGW, Sully, Doug from ATEI, and the Faxon folks hooked us up with a hell of a deal to name a few. During the trade show there were a bunch of short break out training sessions available that covered a wide array of topics. The evening of Day 2 we went to the live fire event at the Erie County Conservation Club where I got to briefly say hi to Jedi and get a little time behind the SRO which was brandy new at the time. After the shoot there was another barbecue at the range and a door prize raffle.

Days 3-5 were the full training days which took place at a variety of locations throughout the area. My advice to anyone interested in attending is once again BOOK EARLY. The instructor cadre is just amazing and many of the classes fill up fast. I won't list everyone who participated, but I can honestly say there wasn't a "disappointing" instructor or class to chose from. A full list of the classes is available HERE for anyone who wants a peak. Chuck's class was, I believe, the first to fill on all 3 days he offered it, Petty's VCQB also filled up quickly as you would expect. There were far more classes I'd have liked to take than days to take them, Chucks, Jedi's Red Dot class, and Varg's seminar just to name a few.

Unlike a traditional AAR I won't dive too deep into the classes I took, but I'll touch on them briefly.

T1: I took Matt Jacques' Fighting From Concealment class. The class was again at the Erie County Conservation Range and we were in the next bay down from Jedi's class. For the class I was running my proof of concept budget RDS setup, which was a Brownells G4 17 RDS slide with a Holosun 507 on it. No I am not a poor, and have dedicated milled guns with RMRs on them, but I've been trying this setup as what would be the bottom tier of department approved RDS guns for the cheap cops at our place, and I gotta say, so far I think it is GTG. The day consisted of a brief lecture on gear selection and the theory behind concealment from Matt then we hit the line and got to work. Starting close and working simple drills stressing the mechanics of the presentation from concealment we worked back and put some distance on us up till the his final "culmination" drill/competition which I am proud to say I took the overall victory in and had a lot of fun doing so. During the course of the day Matt would break the line and give mini lectures as things came up, this all flowed very smoothly and the learning points came naturally as we went. The day closed out with a monsoon rain storm and we came close to fleeing for our lives as a tornado touched down not all that far from where we were. As a side note, we later learned that another guy from our team who was supposed to come this year but couldn't make it had served with Matt on the HMX-1, small world.

T2: For T2 we headed to the Camp Perry Range and took a Handgun/Carbine class from Justin Vititoe of Skydas Group. This class was a relatively low round count course in both handgun and rifle, but well structured in that each round did have a learning objective attached to it. The class covered from about 15 yards to the 100 yard line with both rifle and handgun and emphasized being able to explain why the shooter had made the decisions he had as far as running the drills. The class concluded with a round table discussion of tactics following student created scenarios. The class reinforced what I already had known, that an RDS equipped pistol really shines at everything, but distance might be where it shines brightest.

T2 Evening was the awards banquet. Some of our bro's from Pittsburgh SWAT came up to receive an award for their response to the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting in October of 18. I along with my team was at that incident, and it was an awful scene inside, the dudes from PBP SWAT who did the heavy lifting on that one deserve all the praise I can heap on them so it was nice to see the OTOA give them a nod.

T3: The final day of training we went to the Northern Ohio Tactical Training Center for Ambidextrous Carbine with Dan Brokos of LFT. Dan couldn't be there due to another commitment that popped up but his AI, Buck Peddicord, filled in absolutely awesomely. After starting the day with a discussion of theory, and some basic work on transitioning we jumping in with the 1/2 and 1/2 drill as a warm up. From there we did a little more work on control up close before moving back to the 100-75ish yard range where most of the work was done for the day. Shooting both shoulders, and a variety of positions and in some friendly competition with the other students we worked spent a great day on the range and saw noticeable improvements in skill sets. All in all a great day.

In summary, I cannot recommend the OTOA event highly enough. For the price I don't think there's a better training bargain out there, and there's something that applies to you, whether you're a swat man or SRO, patrol monkey or instructor. I hope to bump into some more P&S and LFers there next year.



Bird's Eye View
Good stuff. I’m always amazed that more dudes don’t come from out of state to take advantage of the sick deal and awesome class options.