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Back to Archives | Back to November 2003 Contents 

President's Message

Global Leadership in Policing

Chief Joseph M. Polisar, Garden Grove, California

Chief Joseph M. Polisar
Chief Joseph M. Polisar
Garden Grove, California

There are few people who get the honor and the privilege of serving their countries and communities as those of us in the police service and the military. To serve as president of the greatest police executive association in the world, the IACP, fills me with honor and humility.

As I begin my term as IACP president, I wanted to outline the priorities on which I will focus during the coming year. However, I want to briefly set the stage for my comments by telling you why police officers are my heroes, and how that fuels the passion I have for this great profession we all serve in.

You see I believe that those who enter the police service are answering a calling, a calling to public service. They want to make a difference and improve the quality of life in the communities they serve.

From Boston to Belo Horizonte, London to Louisville, and Paris to Philadelphia, they put their lives on the line every day because they believe that what they are doing will lead to the betterment of the human condition.

Police officers believe that to be an officer is special, that those good enough to be police officers are special, and that the institution of police service in which they are bonded is special.

Officers stand ready to meet their 24-hour-a-day obligation to take care of those who are in harm's way. We expect them to risk their lives for each other. What sets them apart from many others is their willingness to risk and sometimes give their own lives for total strangers.

On average we lose 150 officers a year in the United States. Add those lost in the rest of the free world, whose officers also champion the rights of the unprotected and underprivileged, and the numbers are quite sobering.

Democracy as we know it could not exist without the police. And we as leaders carry the torch for the noblest profession on earth. Serving for the past 27 years with men and women such as those I have just described has been an honor and privilege. These officers have earned the right to expect nothing short of the finest leadership that we can provide them.

One of the things we must provide them is quality leadership. It is no coincidence that the banner on the IACP Web site states "Global Leadership in Policing." We must never forget that.

So, guided by our strategic plan, I would like to share a few of the priorities, which the IACP will focus on in the coming year.

Several years ago, at the direction of President Lee Brown, the IACP embarked on a quest to develop a comprehensive leadership program for our members. The journey has been fruitful. With the help of grants from the COPS Office and a great deal of work by people such as retired Chief Larry Hesser, Professor Howard Prince, and many others, the IACP has developed, and is currently testing, a comprehensive leadership development model for law enforcement agencies that reflects best practices in the public and private sectors, the military, and the justice system. It is rooted in community-oriented policing theory and addresses leadership as an agencywide concept reaching all ranks and positions. The model is designed to be adaptable to individual agency missions and philosophies.

I believe that this model is a good start, but only a start. That is why one of the major initiatives of my presidency will be to establish the Center for Police Leadership at the IACP. The IACP Foundation will fund it with support from the COPS Office. The center will be an institution within the IACP dedicated to assisting police chiefs and their agencies in their efforts to promote leadership at all levels. The center will be a training and resource center for police departments around the world, providing on-site training and technical assistance and developing police leadership publications of both an academic and practical nature.

Also of critical importance in the coming year will be the continuation of our efforts to promote better information sharing among law enforcement agencies. The IACP hosted a summit in March 2002 called "Criminal Intelligence Sharing: A National Plan for Intelligence-Led Policing at the Local, State, and Federal Levels." It produced a proposal to create a National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. In late 2002 the Global Justice Information Sharing Intelligence Working Group was formed to develop the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. The working group's directive was to establish, promote, and ensure effective intelligence sharing and to address and solve, in an ongoing fashion, the problems that inhibit it. The IACP has taken a leadership role in this extremely important effort and we will continue to be actively involved during the coming year. During a plenary session devoted to intelligence sharing at last month's annual IACP conference in Philadelphia, the working group released the intelligence sharing plan.

However, the completion of the plan is only the first stage in this critical effort. The true challenge before us is the adoption and successful implementation of the plan, which will ensure that state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies are vital and indispensable allies in the ongoing war on terrorism.

This will not be an easy task. Police chiefs throughout the nation must embark on a concerted effort to educate our communities, our colleagues, and our elected officials on the critical need that the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan addresses and the benefits that implementation of the plan will bring to homeland security efforts. The IACP will lead this effort.

Just as important as our ability to share intelligence is our ability to communicate with one another. However, one fact that the events of the last two years have made abundantly clear is that systems and practices that allow for rapid and efficient communications between and among agencies and jurisdictions are imperative.

We must, and will, continue our efforts-in partnership with law enforcement associations and our friends at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the Major Cities Fire Chiefs Association-to secure additional radio spectrum assigned for public safety use and to promote increased funding for the improvement of public safety communications.

Each year, more than 40,000 lives are lost on U.S. highways, and worldwide the number of fatalities incurred from traffic crashes is truly staggering. For years, the IACP Highway Safety Committee, under the leadership of Earl Sweeney, has consistently provided our members with the training and tools needed to reduce these numbers. Not only will we continue our current efforts in this critical area, but we will also expand them to bring greater attention to the needs of the men and women who patrol our streets and highways. The Highway Safety Committee's newly formed Law Enforcement Standards and Safety Subcommittee will be developing guidelines for law enforcement executives that will provide best practices for conducting safe and professional traffic stops.

In an effort to capitalize on the upcoming presidential election year and advance our legislative agenda, the IACP Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police (SACOP), the IACP Division of State & Provincial Police, and the IACP Legislative Committee will hold their meetings at the same time in February so that members of the IACP Board of Officers can join them as we collectively present our legislative agenda on Capitol Hill.

In an effort to ensure that the law enforcement profession works in cooperation towards our common goals, we will continue our collaboration and partnerships with organizations such as the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the Fraternal Order of Police. To this end, the Board of Officers will hold its June meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho, in conjunction with the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association meeting.

Over the last decade, by embracing the philosophy of community policing, law enforcement agencies have been able to work with citizens to create safer towns and cities. We have learned that to be effective, police cannot operate alone; they must have the active support and assistance of citizens and communities. However, for these types of efforts to succeed, the community must trust the police department. To build this trust, law enforcement leaders must reinforce the maintenance of an organizational culture that respects human dignity, that believes constitutional protection and liberties are paramount, and that unmistakably treats biased behavior as unacceptable. To cultivate this culture, law enforcement administrators must ensure, through the establishment of professional policies and training programs-or by emphasizing existing policies and training-that their officers perform their duties in a manner that is fair to all members of society. It is crucial that these policies and training initiatives reflect the interests, expectations, and advice of all segments of the community, since all citizens are partners with law enforcement.

For these reasons, I am pleased to announce that the IACP, through a grant from the COPS Office, will be working to address issues related to federal pattern and practice and civil rights investigations. I hope that this project will allow for the development of best practices documents that will help departments improve their relationships with their communities and proactively establish and implement relevant policies and programs.

In addition, the IACP, through its Police Image and Ethics Committee, will continue its efforts to promote and enhance ethics in law enforcement through the dissemination of the IACP Ethics Toolkit to law enforcement agencies throughout the world. In addition, through the Collaborative Leadership Project, the IACP will focus attention on issues related to police recruitment and selection and the importance of diversifying the police workforce.

Finally, in the past few years, the IACP has made great strides in expanding the reach of its international program. Under the leadership of President Joseph Samuels, the Board of Officers established the Ad Hoc Committee on International Initiatives, which is developing a plan designed to increase our international presence and serve as a roadmap for the future growth of the IACP Division of International Policing. I will be asking the Board of Officers to continue the work of the ad hoc committee and allow us to build upon our previous efforts and to successful meet the challenge of expanding IACP's global impact.

These are but a few of the things we hope to accomplish this coming year.

Let me close by saying once again how honored I am to have this opportunity to serve as your president. I give you my solemn oath that I will perform the duties of this office with the same dedication to duty as those before me have. I will serve the IACP with honor, courage, and commitment.


From The Police Chief, vol. 70, no. 11, November 2003. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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