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Earning the Coin

Earning The Coin

An ASP Instructor Certification (AIC) course participant shares his thoughts on the experience

By Terry Goodlad

In my opinion, and that of countless others, ASP provides the gold standard in batons, handcuffs, and flashlights for the law enforcement community. They also support their equipment—and the people who use it—with comprehensive and challenging training to ensure that the tools are deployed correctly, effectively and safely. I spent three days in northern Florida earning my ASP Instructor Certification (AIC). With the benefit of hindsight, I grossly underestimated how rigorous the training would be, and overestimated my ability to navigate it.

And that’s where the coin comes in… more on that later.

There were twenty-seven other officers in my class, some of the very best in the country, hand-picked by their agencies to become instructors. Two trainers led the course, and I swear they were carved from granite. Highly principled, professional, extremely capable, incredibly strong both mentally and physically, yet kind, compassionate, and deeply inspiring. The kind of leaders we should all aspire to be.

From the moment I took my chair on day one, I knew this place would challenge me and make me better. At 62, I was the oldest in the class. That’s an important detail, as it helps explain why I wondered if I could make the full three days and complete the AIC successfully. But there was no way I was about to fail and let these incredible trainers, my fellow students, and for that matter my family and myself down. I made the decision then and there that I wasn’t going to quit… I would leave nothing in reserve.

I lost over seven pounds in those three days. My body ached from head to toe. I had trained hard to prepare for this, but being in good shape wasn’t enough to put forth a maximum effort for the full three-day course. The days started at 8am sharp and wrapped up at 5pm, and we were expected to give full effort the entire time. We were tested on our commitment, work ethic, and energy as well as our ability to teach effectively and execute the skills with precision. The passing grade on the written exam was 90%, and it was made clear that there would be no exceptions to any of the requirements. No guaranteed “participation trophy.” Being the oldest person there wasn’t getting me a free pass. I had to make the grade like everyone else.

That is the standard for the ASP Instructor course, and it is upheld with pride by the trainers who administer it. Their motto is “protecting those who protect,” and the trainers hold nothing back, ensuring that the instructors they certify are capable of delivering on the promise of that motto.

If you successfully complete the course requirements, you earn your instructor’s patch and pin, but the most meaningful award is the ASP Instructor challenge coin. It’s proof that you earned your title the hard way. The coin is steeped in traditions that are taken very seriously by those who carry it. I have carried mine with pride since those high-speed trainers presented it to me the traditional way, inside a handshake. It will always remind me of those moments when I wanted so badly for the burning in my lungs and muscles to stop—and wanted to give even slightly less than 100% of what I had to give—but didn’t. Instead, I did my very best to honor what that coin represents.

There is value in doing what you think you can’t. Value in doing what others say you are too old to do, and value in doing what others think is ridiculous just because it’s beyond what they believe their own capabilities are.

I came home from the AIC walking a little taller, speaking softer but with a little more resolve, and ready for whatever comes my way. 

Doing the hardest of things to the best of your ability, and refusing to quit, will teach you what you are truly capable of. It will show you where your limits are not, and you will discover the very best of yourself.

Your truth will always be found when walking the hardest paths.

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Terry Goodlad is an AIC graduate—now a certified ASP Instructor—with over a decade of law enforcement experience.