Chief Joseph C. Carter
|Chief Joseph C. Carter|
Transit Police Department
MBTA, Boston, Massachusetts
t seems as though only yesterday I was elected the sixth vice president of IACP and began the long, sometimes challenging, and always satisfying journey to the office of the presidency of our organization. While in some respects this is a personal achievement, my advancement in the organization is a testament to the other members of the IACP Board of Officers who have served as my guides and mentors through even the hardest days, and the New England and Massachusetts chiefs of police who as individuals and organizations have so strongly supported me. I am inheriting the presidency from one of the finest leaders of law enforcement I have ever known, Chief Mary Ann Viverette, and I know I speak for our membership when I thank her for her focused commitment and unyielding advocacy on behalf of the law enforcement profession. I am especially grateful to you, the membership of IACP, wherever found, for the faith and trust you have invested in me.
As I reflect on the outstanding assembly of our members in my home city of Boston, Massachusetts, for the 113th Annual IACP Conference,I cannot help but feel some trepidation, because the challenges that face our profession for the coming year, and all the years to follow, seem greater now than ever before. Violent crime in our nation has lately been on the increase. At an April 2006 summit in Washington, D.C., 170 police chiefs, mayors, and other government officials gathered to discuss the disturbing upward trend in violence, particularly violence among young people. Various attendees had theories about why this kind of violent crime isreappearing, but everyone agreed on one fact: no place is immune. What were once considered urban problems, such as drug addiction and distribution, violent crime, gangs, and poverty, have migrated to suburban and rural locales. Even as I write this column, the headline of today’s Boston Globe reports an incident in which several members of the Los Angeles–based Bloods street gang fired a shotgun ata group of neighborhood youths outside a highschool in one of our city’s neighborhoods. No one was injured this time. Coincidental to the spike in violent crime, police agencies nationally have seen an average 8 percent reduction in officers. Local, state, and federal officers must not allow this phenomenon to go unnoticed.
The role of law enforcement in the United States, and elsewhere, has been dramatically affected by the commitment of vast federal resources to the war on terror. One has to wonder,however, if the cause of homeland security, important though it is, has fully taken into account the importance of local law enforcement. For example, the recent success of British law enforcement agencies in preventing terror attacks on mass transit and international airlines demonstrate that homegrown terror advocates present as grave a threat to national security as any that are recruited and trained in foreign nations. There is perhaps no better and extensive a network of highly trained professionals available to support the war on terror than local police officers. Every municipality throughout the United States has officers on duty all day,every day, and no group is better situated, more networked or invested in the communities they serve, better informed about local issues,or more motivated to protect and defend the homeland. Effective local policing, given the proper support from the state and federal level,can transform police officers from first responders to first preventers of terrorism.
I would be remiss not to underscore the challenges faced by transit and railroad police worldwide. Our consumer platforms and vehicle spaces are confined, with manyexperiencing thousands of passengers passing through their extensive systems, all ripe as potential terrorist targets. Each day and week, many of our international partners experience terror attacks on and to their systems that cause hundreds of deaths and incalculable property loss.
At the very beginning of the founding of America, the framers of the Constitution declared that our democratic government was intended, among other things, to “establish Justice, insure Domestic tranquility, and provide for the common defense.“ I can think of no better set of values to guide our organization in the difficult times we now face, and to serve as a reminder to all of us that each of us, no matter where we are, by committing ourselves to the highest ideals of our profession, can serve our communities, defend our respective nations,and make our world a better, more just, and safer place.I look forward to working in partnership with each IACP member in the coming year toachieve our stated mission.