ne year ago, IACP members, like citizens throughout the nation and the world watched in horror as Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast and utterly devastated an entire region.
In the aftermath of the storm and the flooding which followed, our fellow law enforcement officials and our colleagues from the fire, EMS, and emergency response community have been faced with unimaginable challenges and have continually strived to fulfill their mission of protecting the public. In many cases, law enforcement personnel continued to perform their duties at a time when both their departments and personal residences had been either damaged or destroyed by the storm. As they continue their recovery and rebuilding efforts, these officers and their departments have earned the admiration and respect of public safety organizations around the world.
But more than our admiration, they needed our help. Since Hurricane Katrina hit, the IACP has been working closely with our state associations, state police agencies, and other federal, state, and local response agencies to identify ways in which the IACP could be of assistance to those in need on the Gulf Coast.
For example, the IACP ascertained the material equipment needs of the departments in the affected region and disseminated a listing of these needs to the IACP membership. In addition, IACP worked with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that our members were aware, and made use of, the existing Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) network before sending officers or other personnel to the Gulf Coast region. In this fashion, assistance could be provided to agencies in need in a coordinated manner.
These initial efforts were very successful and provided very tangible assistance to our colleagues.
This outpouring of support also inspired the IACP to establish the IACP Hurricane Katrina Law Enforcement Relief Fund. This fund served as a central collection point for donations and provided financial assistance directly to law enforcement officers and their families who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
As we expected, the IACP membership reacted generously and I am pleased to announce that we have collected more than $217,000 in donations. This represents donations from state associations, active, associate, and life members, members of the general public and the IACP itself.
As promised, IACP staff has been working diligently to ensure that 100 percent of the funds collected are distributed to law enforcement officers in need. To that end, IACP has identified two established, recognized charitable organizations to assist in the distribution of the funds.
Both organizations are tax-exempt, 501 (c) 3 organizations that have already demonstrated their ability to provide funds to impacted law enforcement officers. These organizations are:
The Mississippi Troopers and Law Enforcement Relief Fund, is administered by the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, and has already distributed over $600,000 to impacted state and local law enforcement officers. This fund collects no overhead or administrative fees and all funds donated will go to officers in need.
The Police Benevolent Foundation, is administered by the Southern States Police Benevolent Association and covers 11 states. However, all funds contributed to the Police Benevolent Foundation by the IACP will be designated solely to assist state and local law enforcement officers in Louisiana. This fund collects no overhead or administrative fees.
Please rest assured that the IACP will continue to closely monitor our contributions. As part of our donation requirement, we are requiring that these two funds provide IACP with reports of actions taken. These reports will be carefully reviewed by IACP to ensure that the funds donated by our membership are used only for their intended purpose.
Finally, I would like to offer a personal observation. In the days following the hurricane, the IACP was inundated with offers of support and assistance from around the country and the world. This response from our membership is the very embodiment of all that the IACP has stood for over the last 113 years. After witnessing the generosity and selflessness of so many IACP members over the last year, I can honestly say that I have never been prouder to be a member of this organization. ■