By Elizabeth Currier, Manager, IACP Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police, Alexandria, Virginia
he IACP Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police (SACOP) recently concluded its 2008 midyear conference in Arlington, Virginia. Seventy-eight delegates representing 36 states met March 1–3 to address the concerns of law enforcement administrators and the state associations. Yost Zakhary, chief of police in Woodway, Texas, and general chair of SACOP, led the conference.
SACOP, one of three IACP divisions, regularly brings together the leaders of the state associations to help them establish new levels of communication, coordinate state association activities, and create a forum for balancing states’ views on significant law enforcement issues.
Programs Affecting States
Michael Geraci, director of the Office of Safety Programs, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), addressed SACOP members during the business meeting of the midyear conference, recognizing SACOP’s active role in encouraging and supporting committed traffic enforcement, especially for sustained enforcement efforts in three priority areas: impaired driving, speeding, and occupant restraint noncompliance. He recommitted and emphasized the NHTSA’s technical assistance and continued support to local law enforcement agencies. A strong advocate of enforcement efforts driven by timely and accurate data analysis, Geraci stressed the link between traffic enforcement and crime abatement. The NHTSA is partnering with other federal agencies and organizations, including the IACP, to identify areas of possible collaboration that will address issues of mutual concern all targeted at improving the quality of life in every community served by a law enforcement agency. He advocated for continual year-round traffic enforcement supplemented and highlighted by annual impaired-driving and Click It or Ticket campaigns.
Under Geraci’s leadership, the NHTSA is engaged in providing direct funding assistance to state associations for supporting their members’ efforts and participation in crackdown campaigns and maintenance of high-visibility enforcement activities.
Malcolm Adams, division chief of the Office of State and Local Training (OSL), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, provided the members with an overview of the training opportunities available to state, local, campus, and tribal law enforcement agencies. SACOP’s Smaller Department Section has been involved with FLETC’s development of these programs, with an emphasis on smaller and rural agencies. The OSL’s training programs are not only offered at FLETC facilities but are also exported to select sites throughout the United States and through telecasts.
Stephen White, chief of police in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and the IACP identity crime project team presented an overview of the resources available to members to help their citizens and agencies combat this pervasive crime. The benefits can be found at www.idsafety.org and include a “Police Chiefs Toolkit,” a state-specific legislative compendium, tools to assist in investigations, and training opportunities for both the financial and law enforcement communities.
The SafeShield Project is a long-term SACOP initiative that examines existing and cutting-edge technology, training, and policy with the goal of providing officers with a protective environment, so that all officers can return home safely every day.1
During the midyear meeting, the SafeShield Committee discussed seeking corporate sponsorship for the establishment of an innovative major research project that will collect and organize data on officer injuries across the United States. This body of research will provide the basis for sound decisions regarding officer safety, whether in equipment design, training programs, or policy development.
SafeShield Committee members and their corporate partners also discussed the business plan of the project, how the project can achieve greater publicity and acceptance in the law enforcement community, and the establishment of an officer safety award. The committee also enjoyed several presentations, including safety and health principles from DuPont Advanced Fibers Systems, safety initiatives from the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, and research updates on body armor.
Smaller Department Section
The SACOP Smaller Department Section, chaired by Terry Milam, chief of police in Saint John’s, Missouri, focuses on the needs of police departments that serve populations smaller than 25,000 or have fewer than 25 sworn officers. Those concerns include training, budgets, recruitment, annual IACP conference attendance, and retention. This group advises the IACP regarding the use of a U.S. Department of Justice grant that provides services, support, and technical assistance to smaller police departments. Training topics addressed during the midyear meeting included distance learning and the training offered at no cost to smaller, rural agencies through FLETC.
The main project of this section has been the formation of a scholarship program to allow chiefs from smaller agencies to attend the annual IACP conference. The Police Chief’s Scholarship program is designed to allow several police chiefs who are members of the IACP to attend an IACP annual conference for the first time. It is a common problem that police chiefs from smaller agencies, who constitute a very large majority of the IACP’s membership, do not attend because of funding. The scholarship will pay for attendance to the conference from Sunday through Wednesday in order to cut costs as well as to focus on the most important aspects of the conference: training, exhibits, and networking. The scholarship will provide complimentary conference registration, hotel accommodations up to four nights, and airfare. The recipients will be responsible for any additional costs such as meals and local transportation. While the plan for the scholarship has been finalized, funding is still being sought. When SACOP has secured that funding, notification of the award will be sent to state associations for distribution to their membership.
SACOP Educational Program
In addition to the plenary presentations, SACOP conducts specific educational programs for the leaders of the state associations. This year SACOP held roundtables for state association presidents and executive directors.
State Association Presidents Roundtables: SACOP continued its successful roundtable forum for presidents of the individual state associations. Attended by 14 chiefs, several items were discussed, including collective bargaining, loss of grant revenue, the Adam Walsh Act, National Crime Information Center reporting compliance, retirement issues, immigration, tax reform, and “donning and doffing” lawsuits.
Executive Directors Roundtable/Training: Executive directors of the state associations were provided with an opportunity to discuss matters of concern for their organizations. The Executive Directors Committee works to strengthen each state association by exchanging best practices and programmatic information among themselves. The specific goal of developing an online reference Web site for associations was identified at this meeting. This Web site will provide all the executive directors with a means to access best practices, management tools, and information from other chiefs associations. Training was provided by Thomas M. Manson, who conducted a workshop on getting the most from PowerPoint presentations.
Chiefs Training: The state presidents and representatives were provided with two presentations at the conference. An officer safety–centered approach to law enforcement vehicles was presented by Stacey Stephens, sales development manager for Carbon Motors. Stephens demonstrated many technological advances that can be used to design a safe vehicle for officers. “A Chief’s Guide to Coping with Stress” was the title of a presentation by Dr. James T. Reese that explored police stress and offered significant insights into controlling and mitigating it.
IACP Board of Officers
Members of the IACP Board of Officers attended the SACOP meeting. President Ronald Ruecker addressed the members during the legislative briefing held for the Day on the Hill event and at the annual banquet. Also contributing their support, advice, and insight to the division’s deliberations were first vice president Chief Russell Laine, second vice president Chief Michael Carroll, third vice president Chief Mark Marshall, fourth vice president Walter McNeil, treasurer and vice president Chief Carl Wolf, and past president Chief William Berger.
The SACOP midyear conference enjoyed the support of many industry leaders and law enforcement partners. Assisting the division with its work were the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, DynCorp International, Verizon Wireless, DuPont Advanced Fibers Systems, Motorola, Sig Sauer Inc., TASER International, ITT Night Vision, the Motion Picture Association of America, D.A.R.E. America, W. L. Gore and Associates, and Anheuser-Busch. The organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids hosted a luncheon and provided attendees with information about the resources it offers.
The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association hosted the event, providing a hospitality room for networking and much-deserved relaxation after the daily meeting and training.
The California Police Chiefs Association will host next year’s meeting in Irvine, California, March 7–9, 2009.
SACOP encourages all IACP members to become active in their state associations. State associations can have a tremendous impact on the focus and direction of the IACP. ■
1See Executive Summary: SafeShield Project Officer Injury Survey, www.theiacp.org/div_sec_com/DIV/ExecutiveSummarySafeShield.pdf (accessed March 27, 2008).