Spotlight on Alumni
At Triton, we seek to celebrate the success of our students and graduates! The Alumni Relations Office stays connected for life through recognition of the achievements of our alumni after leaving our gates. Each month, the success stories of our alumni will be featured in our Spotlight on Alumni series.
Nontraditional Tactics Get Rail Noticed, Praised, Respected – Worldwide
Robert Rail brings over 30 years of “on the street” – not “in the office” law enforcement knowledge to the training arena. His laid-back, interactive, enthusiastic style of teaching has made his classes some of the most highly praised and recognized in the world.
After receiving a degree in criminal justice from Triton College in 1973 and obtaining the master rank of Black Belt in two distinct styles of martial arts, Rail chose the metropolitan area of Chicago to work as a police officer and operate his own martial arts school. His experience in law enforcement made him aware of the need for improved training in the area of self-defense and subject control. Rail’s unique dual background and intuitive nature allowed for the natural development of new techniques.
Upon retirement from the police force, Rail became director of Training for Hiatt-Thompson Restraints. He has had the opportunity to teach his handcuffing techniques to police officers all over the world and has authored two books on the subject, Reactive Handcuffing Tactics and Custodial Cuffing and Restraint in addition to his textbook, Defense Without Damage, which teaches select physical skills designed to overcome the high incidence of civil liability involving police officers in arrest and custodial situations.
Rail has had a variety of experiences in law enforcement worldwide. He has served with the United Nations as a member of the International Police Task Force in both Bosnia-Herzegovia, and Kosovo. While there, his handcuffing training manual was selected and translated by the United Nations for police training throughout Bosnia and for numerous other Task Force nations. In Bosnia, he served as course curriculum designer and staff instructor for the police of over 50 nations, specializing in physical confrontation and use of force. He also developed a class, Body Signs of Confrontation, to help officers from all nations understand what was being said by body gestures. The program was also videotaped for future use by the UN and NATO. Upon return to the United States, the presentation evolved into a book and training class, The Unspoken Dialogue. This curriculum was highlighted when Rail taught mediation and negotiations at the Lester B. Pearson Canadian International Peacekeeping Institute and Northwestern University.
In Kosovo, Rail was assigned to the Police Training Center in Pristina, where he taught incoming officers from over 60 countries. Classes included use of force, officer survival, criminal justice, weapons proficiency, interrogation and body signs of confrontation. During this time, he received a doctorate degree in International Justice Enforcement Education.
Rail was also a resident instructor at the Specialized Advanced Training Unit of the High Institute of Baghdad Police College, Iraq, and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in international police studies under the authority of the United States Department of Justice for his exceptional abilities as an international instructor. He has received numerous other awards for his work in the international community from many countries around the world.
Rail recently finished his fifth book, Surviving the International War Zone, and is presently teaching and sharing the knowledge he has received from many of his colleagues throughout his career. He is a frequent contributor to television, radio programs and periodicals, and conducts training and consulting services for state and federal agencies, international governments, universities and corporations worldwide.
What have been some obstacles you’ve had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
The biggest obstacle to my degree completion was being newly married and serving as a police officer while attending classes.
What or who has served as a source of inspiration in either your career, personal life or both?
One of the many great instructors at Triton was Lt. John Bullaro of the Elmhurst Police Department. He didn’t just teach a class he inspired all in the room with his unending enthusiasm and energy, and street-related wisdom. After class it was coffee at a local spot and “in depth” interactive dialogue about any and all law enforcement topics. I will always remember his words when he said “If you’re not getting knocked down you’re not learning and you’re surely not trying.” I have been all over the world and found John’s words to be so very true..
What would you consider your strong suit to be – whether skills or qualities?
My greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. I am far too curious for my own good. After serving over four years in three different war zones I am amazed I’m still alive.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
I came out of high school with few interests and a myopic perspective of the world. Triton instructors taught me that I could not only hold the globe of the Earth in my hands, but that I could walk upon this world that my hands held.
What advice would you give someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
You are quite probably more gifted than I and if I have achieved what I have, then most certainly you will achieve so very much more if you are willing to try and fail and try again.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?
Life is a journey for most, but for that select few who choose the challenges of the world, it is a bungee jump of exhilaration and limitless adventures.
What are your plans for the future?
All I know and have experienced; I will share and hopefully will achieve becoming half the person John Bullaro will always be in my mind and heart.