Steve “Pappy” Papenfuhs

“I hired Steve because every time I watch him teach, it’s like watching a masterclass on how to be a great instructor. His ability to command an audience and capture student’s imagination is unparalleled. He can explain complex subject matter in a simple and practical way and make it look effortless.”

 – Scott Savage 

We think our students deserve to be taught by highly experienced instructors like Sergeant Steve “Pappy” Papenfuhs (ret). During his 29-year law enforcement career with the San Jose Police Department in California, “Pappy” worked Patrol, Field Training Sergeant, Special Operations, Auto Theft, Sexual Assaults, Narcotics, Family Violence, and supervised the department’s in-service Training Division where he was responsible for the delivery of annual training to over 1,500 personnel. That vast experience means Pappy has the real-world experience needed to be a credible instructor.

In addition to his instructor duties, Pappy has been instrumental in designing our training courses. Pappy was a course designer and continues to be a lead instructor for our Field Training Officer, Field Training Officer Update and Field Training Program Supervisor courses. Such course development includes conducting job task assessments, analyzing teaching and learning systems integration, and evaluating the retention and subsequent application of acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities. Part of the reasons our courses are so highly rated is that they are credible and based on the latest research available. Pappy brings several unique qualities to our course design process including 1) years of experience as a police academy trainer and Force Options Simulator instructor, 2) years of experience as a police-practices expert witness and 3) an extensive study of human performance and tactical decision making under stress. As a law enforcement, you know that police work is complex, inherently hazardous, and highly technical. We believe officers deserve high-quality training that will prepare them to operate in that challenging environment. Pappy helps us deliver on that!

Never satisfied with the status quo, Pappy spends countless hours conducting research and using that data to tweak our courses. Our students get the benefit of learning about the latest and greatest research from an instructor who knows how to make it make sense. For example, Pappy’s primary area of interest is the integration of contemporary research-based and evidence-informed practices in the art and science of cognition and learning. He translates that research into easily understood principles for our FTO students.

Known for his use of force expertise, Pappy is often contracted to provide expert-witness analysis and testimony for use of force incidents. He was involved in crafting content for California POST’s Arrest and Control workbook as well as the California POST Active Shooter Response training program. He was contracted to conduct an after-action review of the public safety response to the 2015 terrorist attack and the 2017 North Park Elementary School active shooter incident both in San Bernardino, CA.

Although he has a ton of knowledge, training and experience, Pappy is squarely focused on our students and not himself. He is obsessed with helping students be high performers. To catch Pappy in action, check out the FTO, FTO Update and Field Training Program Supervisor courses on our course schedule page.