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2022 Summer Training

June 21st  

IASRO Opening Remarks
 8:00am -4:00pm - Deputy David Gomez

Social Media Trends, including Drug Use & Abuse and Investigations

June 22nd 
8:00am - 4:00pm - Sean O'Neill 

De-Escalation Education: Verbal Judo Institution


June 23rd
8:00am -12:00pm - Ret. Agent Mike Ferjak 



1:00pm- 4:00 pm - SPO Deb VanVelzen 

Pre-Arrest Diversion

Social Media Trends, including Drug Use & Abuse and Investigations

Deputy David Gomez

June 21, 2022


Course Description:  This presentation will educate attendees on the many facets of drug use and abuse through the many social media avenues. Deputy Gomez will break down the ways that social media “normalizes” drug use and abuse. He will also discuss the investigations of drugs and alcohol use and other illegal behaviors commonly seen on social media.

Upon completion of the session attendees will be able to: 

  1. Identify drug use in social media

  2. Demonstrate illegal behavior and normalization in social media

  3. Recognize key terms and lingo, referencing drug use and other illegal behavior

  4. Identify images / pictures associated with drug use & abuse

  5. Recognize the drug associations in social media and how to investigate them

David Gomez has been at the forefront of educating parents and youth about the many dangers of social media on electronic devices. Gomez uses a collective information approach to create the best strategies for parents and their children to stay safe in a new world of digital citizenship. He also uses this information to train other SROs to better equip them in investigations with a digital element. Gomez has been a school resource officer for seven years and works in the schools with age groups that are most affected by digital devices. 



De-Escalation Education: Verbal Judo Institution

Sean O’Neill

June 22, 2022



Course Description: The essence of Verbal Judo is to influence others to come around to your way of thinking and is best defined as a gentle yet powerful way of persuasion that helps us to avoid, resolve and manage resistance by using presence and words, whether to resolve conflict or to close a deal with a customer.


Verbal Judo teaches us how to listen and speak more effectively, by engaging people through empathy (the most powerful word in the English language) and to use proven strategies that allow us to successfully communicate our point of view and take the upper hand in most contacts, regardless of the kind of day people are having.


What differentiates Verbal Judo from other communication systems is that it offers practical solutions that work when people are under pressure. It provides techniques and conditioned responses that have been extensively tested in the field. The Verbal Judo philosophy is that when you react, the event controls you, whilst when you respond, you’re in control.


When personnel are tactically trained, the environment in which they work improves and the threat of conflict, violence and litigation is greatly reduced. When you make Verbal Judo an essential part of your business, it will not only allow you to have more productive days but will keep your business moving in the right direction – forward. With customers,  employees, peers or family members, Verbal Judo will give you the edge in any encounter, increasing the value of your business and the quality of your life.


Participants in the Verbal Judo program will learn a new gentle approach to being in control of situations without creating stress, without frustration, and without continued conflict, whilst at all times treating everybody with dignity and respect, making sure that everybody wins!


Sean O’Neill has been in Law Enforcement since 2013.  He currently serves with the Des Moines Police Department as a patrol officer in the Mobile Crisis Unit.  In addition to O’Neill’s duties he is a hostage and crisis negotiator, a certified instructor from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, and an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice at Des Moines Area Community College. O’Neill also has experience in tactical communications, cognitive interviewing and influence, statement analysis, body language and deception detection.















Documentary Title: GridShock

Ret. Agent Mike Ferjak

June 23, 2022



Course Description:  This program will provide an accurate and current assessment of human sex trafficking in the United States and Iowa. It will also address the level of awareness of human sex trafficking as it appears today; focusing on the methodology of how persons are subverted and ultimately exploited for the financial gain of the trafficker.   

The program will provide audience members with information regarding common structures of human sex trafficking operations.  The program will also address the counter-intuitive behavior of persons being exploited that is frequently, and mistakenly, described or labeled as “cooperation” or “voluntary participation”.  The impact and damage experienced by trafficked persons and an overview of efforts being directed at combatting human trafficking will be discussed. The program will also share information on how to effectively report suspected human sex trafficking.   

NOTE: There are no sexually explicit photographs or language used in this presentation, however, it will be a frank and direct discussion of the issues and may not be suitable for all participants, it is recommended that persons who may be sensitized or negatively impacted by the training content exercise self-care as necessary. 

Upon completion of the session attendees will be able to: 

  1. Discuss basic characteristics of human sex trafficking and be able to distinguish it from other forms of personal exploitation, i.e., labor trafficking, prostitution etc. 

  2.  Identify and discuss common structures of human sex trafficking operations. 

  3. Discuss how the exploitation of personal vulnerabilities can result in persons being identified and engaged by traffickers. 

  4. Discuss the counterintuitive behavior of persons being exploited and the impact of trauma-bonding. 

  5. Effectively report suspected human sex trafficking. 


Mike Ferjak is an honor graduate of the Iowa law Enforcement Academy and graduated with honors from Upper Iowa University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration with a Law Enforcement emphasis.  He earned his Master of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice from Simpson College.  Areas of concentration in his professional experience and training include highly specialized experience and expertise in interview techniques, written, verbal, and behavioral analysis, sexual offender threat assessment, human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.  Mike has completed advanced law enforcement training and leadership studies with the United States Department of Defense Management Institute, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, the Southern Police Institute, University of Louisville, Kentucky, the Florida Institute of Police Technology and Management, University of North Florida and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia.


Mike was born and raised on the southside of Chicago, Illinois.  From 1976 to 1998 he served as a Patrol Officer, Sergeant, Captain, Chief of Police and State Investigator working in Illinois and then Iowa. In 1998, he was recruited by the Iowa Department of Justice as the lead investigator for the Sexually Violent Predator Unit where, in addition to criminal case investigations, he participated in over 500 risk assessments and evaluations of criminal offenders identified as possible sexual predators. In 2004, he was placed on special assignment to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s (DCI) Cyber-Crime Unit where he served with the federal Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force as an investigator and trainer while continuing to work as the senior criminal investigator for the Attorney General’s Area Prosecutions Division handling high level felony criminal cases. 


In 2011, Mike was selected by the Iowa Attorney General to create and lead the Department of Justice Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prosecution Initiative (Task Force). In that role he worked closely with law enforcement leaders at the local, state and federal levels investigating cases and coordinating operations to increase law enforcement’s operational response capacity, deliver specific victim services training, direct community outreach efforts and provide allied professional education efforts in Iowa and nation-wide.  


In September of 2016, Mike retired from the Iowa Department of Justice completing a 40-year career of public service.  Mike is the Principal and Chief Trainer/Consultant of his training and consulting firm, “I Know A Guy” Training & Consulting, L.L.C., providing investigative skills training and subject matter expertise throughout the United States and Canada to regulatory and law enforcement personnel.  Since 1992, Mike has trained well over 7500 agents and investigators in the United States and Canada. He also offers training on personal safety, situational awareness, child exploitation and human trafficking to non-government and community-based organizations, education and medical organizations and other professionals that conduct and support efforts against human trafficking. 


Mike continues to serve with the federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and has served as an instructor on the adjunct faculty of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for Dorothy’s House, a “safe house” restoration program for human trafficking survivors in Iowa, and the Board of Directors for the Iowa Association of School Resource Officers.  He is a member of the Iowa Police Chiefs Association and is also a member of the Story County Sheriff’s Department Human Trafficking Response Team.


Mike is a recognized expert on human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children and has been called to testify before the Iowa Legislature and the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on the topic of human trafficking as well as before other government offices, private corporations and venues throughout North America.


He is an invited guest lecturer at Iowa State University’s Gender Studies Honors Seminar and senior level classes, Drake University’s Law School and Des Moines University’s School of Medicine lecturing on sex crimes, sexual predators and human trafficking issues.  Mike is a Senior Instructor for the national Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) teaching the advanced national certified investigator training (NCIT) course.  


Mike is a retired career military officer with twenty-seven years of service in the United States Army, active and reserve forces, serving in the Infantry, Combat Engineer and Aviation branches.  On three separate occasions he was selected to command combat engineer units and has served on the Commanding General’s Staff of the Iowa National Guard.  


Pre-Arrest Diversion

Deb VanVelzen

June 23, 2022



Course Description:  Do you want to keep your students out of the Juvenile Court system, but yet still hold them accountable for their actions? Often the youth that School Resource Officers come in contact with have committed low offenses and are considered low risk offenders. In addition, many youth referred to the juvenile justice system have significant mental health issues, experienced childhood trauma, are receiving special education services, or are children of color.  Pre-arrest diversion programs are alternatives to initial or continued formal processing of youth in the juvenile delinquency system. In this session, we will discuss the research behind effective pre-arrest diversion programs, explore the benefits of implementing a diversion program and provide models of free to low cost diversion programs. Participants will leave with the knowledge to start a diversion program specifically tailored for their community’s needs.  


Deb VanVelzen has been a police officer with the Des Moines Police Department (Iowa) since 2004. She is currently assigned as the Youth Services Coordinator where she implements the department’s juvenile pre-arrest diversion program and other youth programming. She has 13 years of School Resource Officer experience and 8 years as a public school educator. She currently serves on the Iowa Association School Resource Officers’ Board of Directors and is a NASRO instructor.













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