Bios

Lee Comer Lee Comer
Chief Learning Officer
lee@trainersandteachers.com

Ms. Comer has over 15 years of experience architecting and delivering innovative curriculum for government agencies -primarily law enforcement- throughout California. Lee works with content area experts and, with them,  develops training programs that engage learners and produce optimal results. As resources shrink, it becomes increasingly crucial to present information in a variety of ways to a variety of learners and learning styles. Skills taught must be retained and information must be absorbed. Training should create a shift in culture and bring about changes in workplace behavior. Lee’ s professional  mission is to offer interactive, substantial, reliable training that transfers to the workplace.

John Cressy John Cressy, Senior Trainer

John Cressy’s writing career and his secondary school classroom experience account for a portion of his success at probation and corrections training. Mr. Cressy has been a staple trainer for Custom Training in departments throughout California now for over 14 years: he is respected and sought after. People have fun in his classes, but, more importantly, people learn! They learn how to write more skillfully. They learn how to fix their own mistakes. They learn how to edit. They learn how to write analytically. John is extremely knowledgeable about all report formats and types and has taught report writing in nearly every county in the state. John has a BA in journalism and history. Mr. Cressy worked on a variety of California newspapers for over 20 years, and currently is a freelance writer. This colorful trainer “gets it done” with flair.

Jerry Flynn Jerry Flynn, Senior Trainer

Jerry Flynn is a retired Supervising Probation Officer from Sacramento. After serving in a variety of field positions as a deputy probation officer, Jerry became a supervisor in 1989 and served as Wing Supervisor responsible for programming and staffing of four living units. He served Sacramento County Probation by developing an 80-hour Juvenile Hall staff training program in addition to serving on the Board of Corrections Committee to revise standards for juvenile detention facilities in California. Later, Jerry acted as the Supervisor of the Placement Unit and the Quality Assurance and Technical Assistance Group Home Unit. Jerry has a tremendous amount of probation experience and brings his insight, knowledge and candor to the training room.

James Hill James Hill, Trainer

James Hill is a Juvenile Hall Supervisor with over 14 years of experience. He helped develop the curriculum and teaches Juvenile Corrections Officers’ Core, teaching Prosocial Skills and Peace Officers Standards and Training courses for the Santa Clara County Probation Department. Mr. Hill earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and uses his expertise, insight, and humor to engage participants. He has practical experience from a wide variety of assignments. You can apply what you learn the very next day.

Lenard Vare Lenard Vare, Trainer

Lenard Vare has over 27 years of practical experience in inmate management, classification, program design, high-risk inmate transportation, team building, organizational development, and training correctional personnel in both Nevada and California. In Nevada, he operated inmate fire camps, served as a criminal investigator and hostage/crisis negotiator, supervised state fugitive recovery teams, conducted internal affairs investigations, oversaw the operations of community-based correctional facilities, and served as the departmental liaison to the Nevada Governor’s office. Lenard became the youngest warden in the state of Nevada in 2004 and served in that capacity for approximately five years. He has worked as a warden over both male and female medium and maximum custody facilities. He opened and operated the first youthful offender facility in Nevada which became a model for managing high-risk gang populations through the use of intensive supervision and programming. Under Lenard’s leadership, the facility managed inmates and provided programs that promoted pro-social activities, vocational training, and education regardless of their gang background. Lenard has years of experience teaching in classrooms and individual settings with the Nevada Department of Corrections. In 2008 he was appointed to the position of director at the Napa County Department of Corrections. In this role he is responsible for the operations of the county corrections department and serves as the chair of the county parole board. He has a bachelors degree in criminal justice administration and a masters degree in justice management from University of Nevada, Reno. He also serves as criminal justice faculty for the University of Phoenix, Sacramento Valley Campus.

Sally Savage-Lebhart Sally Savage-Lebhart, Trainer

Sally Savage-Lebhart’s career in the Federal Aviation Administration and her rise from an entry level Program Analyst to a Planning Manager is a true example of grit, brains, and raw ambition. Sally has the ability to grab her audiences and keep them engaged all day; her unique story offers real-world skills and hope to all who are trying to climb the ladder of success in any government arena. She went from preparing presentations for high-level managers to being a high level manager in her own right. A true self-made woman, Sally earned a Masters in Public Administration as well as got her Juris Doctorate, and passed the bar in 1995. There is very little this woman cannot do. She is a true treasure chest of on-the-job-experience as well as a HUGE source of inspiration for any professional support staff on his or her way up the ladder.

Alan Nicholas Alan Nicholas, Trainer

Alan Nicholas has worked in Law Enforcement for over 33 years, over half of that time as a San Diego Police Department Field Training Officer. Skilled at teaching a wide range of topics, Alan is an engaging and thought-provoking instructor who has worked with Custom Training for seven years. He teaches subjects ranging from various Law Enforcement communications courses to suicide prevention in jails and institutions and courtroom testimony courses. His no-nonsense approach as well as his sense of humor makes him an outstanding trainer and facilitator. He is flexible in the classroom and eager to paint a picture that participants can understand immediately and then use on the job. Mr. Nicholas has a flair for the dramatic and a gift for the humorous. Now that Alan is retired, he is looking forward to focusing on his passion for training!

Gulbin Durmus Gulbin Durmus-Pennock , Trainer

Gulbin Durmus-Pennock holds both a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has 14 years of experience working in the mental health field. Her work history is intense and diverse, and she had held many positions: intensive community case manager, outpatient program therapist, outreach coordinator, and psychiatric hospital social worker. Currently, and for the last 7 years, Ms. Durmus has excelled as a valued clinician on the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (P.E.R.T.) with the San Diego Police Department. As a first responder, she provides psychiatric crisis interventions, conducts assessments, performs triage, arranges hospitalizations, and connects citizens with resources. She is also a vital in assisting Peace Officers in making determinations about dispositions and is routinely utilized for high profile cases, working in collaboration with ENT, SWAT, and the FBI. Ms. Durmus encounters the criminally mentally ill with great frequency and observes how the stakeholder communities have gaps in dealing with this population. Ms. Durmus believes that cross-systems collaboration and education will lead to improved service delivery. By bringing her expertise and insight, her practical approach, realistic scenarios, and creativity into the training room, she has the capacity to empower participants to effectively handle challenging situations.

Paul Phillips Paul Phillips, Trainer

A San Diego Police Department Sergeant, Paul Phillips has a great deal of training experience in street gangs, report writing, and courtroom testimony. He has a wide range of workplace experiences and was San Diego Police Officer of the Year, 2006. In addition, Paul has received dozens of commendations and is an engaging instructor. Paul truly enjoys showing others the fun aspects and the challenges of various aspects of law enforcement and the dynamics of interacting with a variety of learners.

Mike Raneses Mike Raneses, Trainer

Mike Raneses is a 45-year veteran of California law enforcement: he has experience as a deputy sheriff and sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a probation officer with the Orange County Probation Department, and a parole agent with the California Department of Corrections. Raneses holds a BA in Criminal Justice Administration and a MA in Public Administration. Mike’s extensive teaching and training experience includes a wide variety of criminal justice operational and management courses taught at training academies and at the college and university levels. Retired from the US Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Mike has a passion for encouraging and developing leadership skills at all levels and effectively applying those skills within an ethical framework in the criminal justice community.

Julie Stedman Julie Stedman, Trainer

Julie Stedman retired in 2015 after a successful 37-year career in Probation. Her probation career started in the State of Michigan where she worked in a juvenile institution and as a probation officer. The last 32 years of her career were with Orange County Probation where she worked in several functions in both adult and juvenile services. Stedman has trained several probation officer core courses, Interstate Compact Training, Offender Workforce Development and Group Facilitation Training for Thinking for a Change. In her most recent position as an Assistant Division Director of Juvenile Court Services she played an integral role in the implementation of trauma informed practices for OC Probation through training. She has a passion for providing engaging training that reaches all learning styles.

Damon Sherman Damon Sherman, Trainer

Damon Sherman, a San Diego police officer with 14 years experience, has spent half of that time as a gang investigator with special expertise in Hispanic criminal street gangs, emerging gangs, taggers and the graffiti subculture. Damon’s everyday work experience includes working closely with Probation and Parole, assisting with locating violators, conducting home visits, search and seizure, and interrogation of suspects. Sherman works closely with the DA’s office to ensure smooth and thorough prosecution and is a recognized court expert in Hispanic gang culture. Mr. Sherman has developed and conducted training classes for law enforcement and prosecutors in California and Mexico and uses his real-world communication skills to facilitate a student integrated learning environment that maximizes the instructional benefit of each class he presents. The lessons he teaches contain analogies and examples that can immediately be applied to actual situations. His experience transfers well to the training room.

Alicia Steward Alicia Steward, Trainer

Alicia Steward has worked at Orange County Probation for 10 years. She has worked in various juvenile correctional institutional settings, including both juvenile hall and camps. A majority of her Corrections career has been at Joplin Youth Center, where Programming has been the focus. Ms. Steward has developed and facilitated numerous programs: gang intervention, substance abuse panels, anger management, Values Matter and Thinking For A Change. She is a certified STC course developer and instructor, and a trainer for group facilitator trainings for the Thinking For A Change. Ms. Steward has over 180 hours of training provided by the National Institute of Corrections. In 2008 She received the California Association of Probation Institution Administrators Line Staff of the Year award for excellence in institutional programming. She is skilled at engaging learners in training workshops and uses a variety of teaching methods.

Carmelin Rivera Carmelin Rivera, Trainer

Carmelin Rivera is a sergeant and 21-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department. He has worked a diverse array of assignments in patrol, the Gang Suppression Team, the Graffiti Strike Force, the Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Sex Crimes, Leadership Development, Officer Wellness Units, and In-Service Training. He has developed and/or presented many dynamic courses and workshops in family and domestic violence, gang awareness, narcotics, leadership, tactical communications, intelligence-led policing, racial profiling, cultural diversity, ethics, professionalism, situational awareness, non-biased based policing, community policing, procedural justice, and emotional intelligence. Carmelin trains law enforcement officers, military personnel, and community members across the US. He is an adjunct faculty member at San Diego Miramar College and National University. Mr. Rivera has developed and facilitated training courses for the US Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego, and is currently working on his Ph. D in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego.

Brian Fitch Brian D. Fitch, Ph.D.

Brian D. Fitch, Ph.D., retired as lieutenant after 34 years of service with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has held positions as a field training officer, field sergeant, custody sergeant, patrol watch commander, custody watch commander, detective bureau commander, and operations lieutenant, as well as a felony investigator and training coordinator. Dr. Fitch has trained more than 10,000 law enforcement professionals at all ranks from more than 300 law enforcement agencies. Dr. Fitch has also provided training internationally. Dr. Fitch’s research and writing appear in several law enforcement publications and is a graduate of the California Commission on POST Master Instructor Program (MIDP). Dr. Fitch teaches actively in the leadership development program for the Los Angeles Police Department. He holds master’s degrees in communication studies and human development, and a doctorate in human development.

Joseph Dulla Joseph Dulla, Trainer

Joseph Dulla has been with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for over 24 years. He is currently assigned as a lieutenant at the Communications and Fleet Management Bureau-Training Team. Joe holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Sociology. He has worked uniformed patrol, special projects, COPS, detective and training assignments in the County Jail system, Patrol Stations, Detective, Leadership and Training and Technical Services Divisions. He was assigned to the Department’s Identity Theft Team which is now part of the Southern California High Tech Crimes Task Force. He is an instructor in the POST Leadership and Coaching, Detective Supervisors, and Management courses. Joe is a graduate of the California POST Master Instructor Development Program. He also holds adjunct faculty positions at California State University Dominguez Hills, San Bernardino, and National University in the Schools of Business and Public Policy where he has taught on ground, online, and hybrid courses in organizational behavior, groups and teams, public personnel policy, public administration, globalization and workforce planning. He is currently working on cost efficient and evidence-based ways to deliver effective training and education.

Judge Jack Ryan Judge Jack Ryan, Trainer

John J (Jack) Ryan is a retired judge of the Superior Court in Orange County. He received his J.D. and B.S.L. from the University of California. He is a former prosecutor with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and is retired from the United States Marine Corps. Judge Ryan has taught Search and Seizure courses since 1974 and also teaches interrogation issues, felony sentencing and criminal procedure. He has taught criminal law for both Pepperdine School of Law and Western State University. Judge Ryan was elected to the Municipal Court Bench and ultimately appointed to the Superior Court in 1984 by Governor George Deukmejian.

David Pulido David Pulido, Trainer

David is a Deputy Probation Officer with over 17 years of experience in several criminal justice fields. During his tenure, David has spent most of his career with the Santa Clara County Probation Department. David has worked in juvenile hall along with numerous assignments as a probation officer including adult and juvenile supervision, domestic violence and narcotics supervision, pre-sentence investigations, court officer, juvenile diversion as well as a liaison with a local police department in Sunnyvale, CA. David has been instrumental with in-house training, teaching various subjects including: First Aid/CPR, Defensive Tactics, Chemical Agents, Courtroom Testimony, Cyber bullying and Social Media, and 832PC. Mr. Pulido has developed curriculum and continues to teach several subjects in the juvenile corrections officer CORE at Santa Clara County Probation. David has over 8 years of teaching experience at the community college level at Gavilan College in Gilroy, CA where he teaches several topics within their Criminal Justice Department. David utilizes his experience and humor by engaging students and encouraging participation through various adult learning methods.

Gary Gonzales Gary Gonzales, Trainer

Gary Gonzales is an 18-year veteran of law enforcement where he spent the first 2 years of his career with the Los Angeles Police Department and the remaining 16 years with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD). His law enforcement experience includes working patrol at LAPD Central Division, patrol assignments with SDPD at the Southern and Central Divisions, Border Crime Investigative Unit, Undercover Narcotic Officer, Drug Court Liaison Officer, and Community Relations Officer. He is currently a detective for the Sex Crimes Unit and has worked as a detective in Central Investigations, Domestic Violence Unit, and the Elder Abuse Unit. Gonzales is also a passionate, well-regarded educator and presenter to his colleagues in the law enforcement community, as well as a recognized professor in the college academic field of criminal justice and public administration. His developed style and flare of interaction and leadership toward the subject matter has been evident in the outcome of student achievements from the police academy and college rank. His personal input in building lectures, forums, and educational studies has been proven in the many dynamic courses and workshops on public administration concepts, leadership and management, group dynamics, human resource, community-orientated policing, narcotics, domestic violence, elder abuse, sex crimes, violence in the work place, terrorism, and ethics.

Martin Matsuda Martin Matsuda, Trainer

Martin Matsuda is a retired Assistant Division Chief from Sacramento County Probation. In his 28 years of service, he has extensive experience in juvenile institutions, both juvenile and adult field casework and specialized field assignments. In his 6 years as a manager at the Youth Detention Facility, he developed a working knowledge in Title 15 & 24 CCR compliance, facility construction and remodeling, and institution security design. He managed personnel matters including administrative investigations and employee discipline. Martin also managed the Training Unit and the 160-hour Probation Institutions Training program. He developed and trained classes on Sacramento area street gangs to officers and citizen groups in the community. In 2006, he received recognition from the Chief Probation Officers of California as the Sacramento region Employee of the Year.

Gerard Bergeron Gerard Bergeron, Trainer

Gerard enjoyed a 25-year career with Orange County Probation and excelled in a number of varied assignments: line level institutions assignments, adult felony investigations, community resources, background investigations, and the department’s well respected training unit. As a supervisor, Gerard held positions with juvenile field services, including evidence-based juvenile justice reform work on the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. Gerard is a special breed of lifelong learner: a trait that enabled him to engage deeply when assigned to the training unit in OC Probation. He developed and taught EBP related courses as well as courses focused on leadership, supervision, human trafficking, and safety. Before his career with OC Probation, Gerard studied theology at Pacific Christian College and worked as a youth minister and retreat director. He is an accomplished musician and singer. He brings warmth, humor, and candor to the classroom and enjoys motivating line level staff and supervisors.

Ron Belkin Ron Belkin, Trainer

Ron Belkin is a retired Supervising Probation Officer from Stanislaus County. He served in numerous field and investigative positions and ended his 27-year career as the supervisor of the Adult Supervision Unit where he was responsible for the training of new field staff assigned to the Adult Division. Ron served as Range Master for the department for 11 years and he co-developed a 40-hour firearms training program designed to get staff qualified to carry firearms in their assignments. He also developed, and taught for 10 years, a 16-hour class titled Officer Field Safety, Search and Arrest Procedures. In addition to his case work experience, Ron also brings experience working in custodial settings. He worked in Juvenile Hall as well as for the California Youth Authority (Division of Juvenile Justice) at the beginning of his career.

Kevin McNamara Kevin McNamara, Trainer

Kevin McNamara has been with the San Diego Police Department for the past 27 years. During that time Kevin has worked a variety of patrol and investigative assignments. Kevin is currently assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit where he investigates felony sexual assaults. He also has extensive training in family protection and domestic violence. Kevin’s collateral duty is conducting forensic exams involving digital evidence. Kevin has received specialized training from the US Secret Service in mobile data exams. Kevin has been called upon to testify as an expert in digital evidence relating to mobile devices.

Mark Mautner Mark Mautner, Trainer

Mark Mautner has 17 years of experience in both the social services and probation field. Mark has been a counselor and residential supervisor in a residential treatment facility for emotionally disturbed adolescents, has worked in elementary and middle school classrooms as a behavioralist, and has been an Alcohol and Other Drug counselor with adolescents. As a probation officer, Mark has been a dedicated proponent of the advancement of evidenced based practices. Mark has helped coordinate, implement, and facilitate several programs for a probation department, including an evening reporting center for juvenile offenders, a cognitive behavior group intervention program for adult and juvenile offenders, and a Deferred Entry of Judgment program for adult offenders; short term 1:1 and group treatment interventions for systems vulnerable individuals. Mark has a Masters of Arts degree in counseling psychology and is a Marriage and Family Therapist trainee.

Stacy Rodriguez Stacy Rodriguez, Trainer

Stacy Rodriguez is a retired Deputy District Attorney from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.  With a career that spanned almost 17 years, Stacy has handled virtually every type of misdemeanor and felony case imaginable including multiple homicides, sexual assault, rape, child molest, child abuse and domestic violence, conducting close to 100 jury trials.  After graduating magna cum laude from law school, Ms. Rodriguez knew there was only one place she wanted to practice law: the district attorney’s office.  Once there, she threw herself into prosecution with her typical high-energy persona – writing articles for local law enforcement publications, conducting training for law enforcement, crime lab personnel and S.A.R.T. nurses.  She taught at their agencies, as well as at the Southwestern Regional Police Academy, on a variety of topics including report writing, search warrant preparation and how to prepare for courtroom testimony.  She also began teaching classes in-house for the other DDA’s and for CDAA (California District Attorneys’ Assoc.) on a variety of topics, all while maintaining a full trial load.  In 2000, local law enforcement personnel presented her with an award for being the Sexual Assault Prosecutor of the Year. From 2002 through 2004, she was featured repeatedly on NBC’s Crime and Punishment, a prime-time television series that followed trials conducted by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.  Ms. Rodriguez continues to be involved with law enforcement training.

Todd Elliot Todd Elliot, Trainer

Todd Elliott retired following 25 years in law enforcement in Kern County. Todd worked as a crime scene investigator with the Sheriff’s Department and then worked 19 years for the Probation Department. His assignments included armed supervision as well as investigations in both the adult and juvenile divisions. He was named supervision officer of the year and served on the executive board for the local and state CPPCA organizations where he was recognized for distinction several times. He also spent several years teaching report writing and search techniques for Kern County Probation core classes. Todd spent 12 years as a supervisor where he supervised armed as well as unarmed staff in numerous units. Todd holds a B.A in Journalism with a minor in English that served him well while proofing reports to the court for all those years. Todd has a passion for training the next generation of probation staff while utilizing a light-hearted, friendly attitude in the classroom.

Lieutenant Devin A. Chase – Retired, Instructor

Devin served as a police officer from 1982 until he retired in December of 2014. During his career he worked a variety of assignments; specializing in patrol, field training and narcotics.
Devin has over ten years of experience working as a detective, detective sergeant and division commander in the Vice & Narcotics Division and he spent over 18 years working patrol as an officer, field training officer, sergeant and area commander. Devin has been recognized as an expert in both state and federal courts in a number of areas related to drug influence and drug distribution. Since 1991 Devin has been developing and teaching a variety of narcotic related topics; topics ranging from influence to cartel operations. Devin has trained and consulted extensively throughout the United States on various narcotics related topics for Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Additionally he has taught law enforcement in a number of other countries including Mexico and Colombia. Devin is a regular instructor for the California Narcotic Officers Association. In 2005 Devin was awarded the Narcotics’ Officer of the Year for both Los Angeles County and for the State of California.

Jim waters Jim Waters

Jim Waters has served in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office for 29 years, and has tried almost every type of case including multiple murders, rape, kidnapping, mayhem, arson, burglary, vehicular manslaughter, felony assault, identity theft, forgery, environmental fraud, torture, child abuse, embezzlement, insurance fraud, real estate fraud, and elder abuse. During his tenure at the District Attorney’s Office he has served an Assistant Chief of a various branches and units. He is a regular teacher of trial skills at the Louis Welsh Inn of Court and has taught at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. After graduating from University of San Diego School of Law, and prior to starting at the District Attorney’s Office Mr. Waters worked in Washington, D.C., where he served as Assistant General Counsel at the National Republican Congressional Committee, providing counsel to the National Committee and Member of the House of Representatives. Jim enjoys teaching, and assisting veterans and the homeless in need while serving on a number of boards including the Veteran’s Village of San Diego, Fr. Joe’s Villages, and the Balboa Park Trust through the San Diego Foundation. He brings his vast experience and engaging style to the classroom.