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Triton alum shares experience from career that has spanned the globe

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For Triton College alumnus Dr. Robert Rail, it’s all about perspective. That’s the message that the police veteran who has trained law enforcement personnel in war zones all over the world delivered while speaking to students from Triton’s Criminal Justice Administration Program on Feb. 18. His Presentation, entitled International Police Perspectives with Robert Rail, provided students with insight on how to succeed in various areas of the field of criminal justice.

To illustrate his point about perspective, Dr. Rail began his presentation by scribbling drawings on a large piece of paper. The sketches included a glass of water, balloon, candle and a tree, among others. “You look at these things now, they have one meaning. When I leave, we’ll see if they have a different meaning,” he told the group.

A balloon with words written on it was illegible when it was empty but became readable as he inflated it. This showed how people’s perceptions change when put under pressure. The candle represented how some people need to experience pain to understand it, while others will simply accept a warning that something is hot.

Dr. Rail engaged the group with a mix of personal stories from his career and bits of advice, emphasizing the need to combine education and experience to achieve personal and professional success. He explained how training officers in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq helped broaden his perspective. “I’ve never seen real hate until I was in Bosnia. It was unbelievable the level of hatred people have for each other,” he said.

His tone alternated between heartfelt sincerity and dry humor throughout the presentation. “Take your enemy, put them at the highest level you can, put them on a pedestal in your mind. If they’re on a pedestal, they’re an easier target,” he quipped as he spoke of the need to respect your opposition during a confrontation.

Triton’s Criminal Justice Administration Department Coordinator Gregory Catena said Dr. Rail is an example of how education can lead to opportunities. “Dr. Rail started out here as a student just like the rest of them did… now he’s an internationally recognized expert on terrorism and physical and self-defense for police officers,” he said.

Dr. Rail received a degree in criminal justice from Triton College in 1973. He went on to work for a local police department before serving as a member of the United Nation’s International Police Task Force, specializing in police training. He has received numerous awards for his international police training work and has authored five books on police training and defense tactics.

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