Coaching ‘em Up
Jerry Loughran has trained champions for nearly a decade.
Through the Lexington Police Department’s Activities/Athletic League’s Cobra boxing club, Loughran trained seven USA boxing national champions and two world champions since he began coaching in 2008. In fact, he is the only Olympic-level certified boxing coach in the state of Kentucky.
Present day, Loughran still trains champions. His new breed of champions are the police recruits he trains as an instructor at the Department of Criminal Justice Training.
Like coaching boxers, Loughran approaches his instructor duties at DOCJT with a similar mindset. Teaching and coaching aren’t that dissimilar, he said, adding the key to solid teaching and coaching is laying a good foundation.
“It started with me being a (field training officer with Lexington Police Department) and it evolved into the PAL program, D.A.R.E. … pretty much all of my career I’ve taught, developed and mentored young officers and young people in some capacity,” Loughran said. “Teaching was always my second choice. If I had an injury where I couldn’t go into law enforcement – it was always the backup plan.”
When working with recruits, Loughran said it is important not to forget what it was like to be a recruit when he was in their shoes. His coaching experiences have allowed Loughran to teach more effectively, and in turn, produce better officers.
“Where I am a coach by nature, I’ve got a real performance background,” he said. “When I watch recruits perform, especially when you’re talking about a skill such as firearms, if they’re not getting it or understanding it, (my coaching background) gives me a good perspective on how to package things in such a way that they can understand.
“You can lay a good foundation when they start out with a skill or in a class,” Loughran continued, “but if you don’t have a solid foundation or building block, you cannot build from it.”
Besides boxing, Loughran has a wealth of on-the-job experience to share with recruits.
“Having mentored as many officers as I have, you know what their obstacles and mental barriers are,” he said. “You know how they think.”
From 1999 to 2012, Loughran worked for the Lexington Police Department, and coming from a large agency enables him to share many types of case experiences. While on the street, Loughran said he typically answered 10 to 20 calls for service per shift.
“That has really helped me bring a broad perspective to DOCJT,” he said.
His Lexington experiences also were the genesis of the Spanish-speaking curriculum he developed for DOCJT.
While at Lexington, Loughran became actively involved in its Spanish program.
“We had 632 class hours of Spanish,” he said. “I spent the summer of 2001 in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. We worked with the police and Univision followed us around, so it is a very comprehensive program.”
Once at DOCJT, Loughran developed the curriculum with one thing in mind.
“At the beginning of each class, I will ask, ‘Who works for an agency that you can guarantee that you’ll never interact with a Spanish-speaking individual?’ Loughran said. “Nobody ever raises their hand because they cannot guarantee that.”
Statistics show the Spanish-speaking population in the United States has tripled since the mid-1990s, Loughran said, when estimates were nearly 20 million. That number now is close to 70 million. Recruits need to, at a minimum, be able to request the name and date of birth from Spanish-speaking individuals with whom they might interact on the streets, he said.
“If you don’t have a minimum level of Spanish, then you’re derelict in your duty,” Loughran said. “We wouldn’t think about going to work without our magazines or handcuffs. Without a minimum knowledge of Spanish, you’re leaving a tool at home.”
The DOCJT Spanish class is an intensive three-hour course, Loughran said, which provides recruits with the basic foundation to communicate that they need.
“You want to avoid open-ended conversations because you cannot achieve a high degree of fluency in three hours,” Loughran said. “It’s pretty awesome at the end of the three hours to see the recruits come up and be able to perform a high-risk felony stop in Spanish. To go from zero to that in three hours is pretty amazing.”
While teaching Spanish is a passion, Loughran’s skill with firearms is what brought him to DOCJT.
A few years after retiring from the Lexington Police Department, a firearms instructor position came open at DOCJT and he jumped at it.
“I said to myself that if I could get that position, I’d come back full-time,” he said. “That would be one of the few positions that would lure me back into a full-time job. I applied and was fortunate enough to get it.”
Loughran is an expert shooter from his time with Lexington, and he approached his new gig with an open mind.
“It was unbelievable the amount of talent that was already here and the schools they had been to and had graduated at the top of the classes,” he said of his fellow instructors. “We had the best of the best instructors, and we still have the best instructors that I’ve ever seen.”
During his time as a firearms instructor, he has seen the program refined and now serves recruit classes even better.
“When (Commissioner Mark) Filburn first got here, he asked us what we needed in order to turn out a better product,” he said. “We told him that we needed (the recruits) for three weeks straight.”
The policy was implemented and the results are clear, Loughran said.
“The product that we’re putting out now would be equal to any agency that is out there,” he said. “You wouldn’t know one agency’s recruits from the other because now we’re getting the time to instruct. We’re putting out a better product because of that decision.”
Joys of Teaching
It’s the collaboration within DOCJT and transferring it into the classroom setting that makes Loughran enjoy coming to work. His expertise is not limited to firearms and the Spanish-speaking program. Recently, he transferred into DOCJT’s Patrol Procedures Section and is finding the move rewarding teaching officer safety, preparation, techniques and other hot topics.
“To be honest, it is a little uncomfortable when you’re teaching a class like [implicit bias],” he said. “You’re talking about biases such as racism, and you have a plethora of different ethnicities sitting there in the classroom. You almost feel like in law enforcement that you’re doing something wrong. But you have to get past that and remember that we’re all family, and you have to be able to talk about those things. I love teaching those classes.”
By sharing his knowledge and experiences with the next generation of Kentucky law enforcement, Loughran said his end goal is to have each recruit ahead of the game when they exit the academy.
“If recruits come out of the academy and are already performing at the level we were at let’s say, five years into our careers, that’s a success,” Loughran said.