Gary L. Vest I am the chief of police of the Powell, Ohio, Police Department, a position that I have held since May 1996. I have served in the law enforcement profession for over 37 years, including four years in the U.S. Air Force Security Police. I am also a past president of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.
Chief of Police
Candidate for IACP Fourth Vice President
Powell is a small suburban city located just north of Columbus, Ohio, in the central part of the state. We have a population of about 12,000 residents, with a police force of 18 sworn and 2 civilians. We are a typical U.S. law enforcement agency. Seventy-six percent of all law enforcement officers in the United States are employed by agencies consisting of 25 officers or fewer. Ohio has over 900 law enforcement agencies within the state, the majority of which are smaller agencies.
I am seeking the office of IACP fourth vice president with a desire to encourage our association to be more accessible to all our members and support local law enforcement objectives across jurisdictional boundaries, regardless of agency size or geographical location. Although there are many size and resource disparities among the various law enforcement agencies around the world, the hazards facing our street officers are universally unpredictable. They are on the front line and need our support.
I believe that through the IACP, we chiefs can use our collective voice to be a strong advocate for local law enforcement agencies. I struggle with why local governments are paying state governments to access state records. Our local taxpayers must also pay state and federal taxes. Meanwhile, governments are billing each other to offset their own operational costs. Budget cuts at the state level tend to lead to higher costs for local government.
I am concerned about the lack of enforceable industry standards. We have disparate communication systems and information silos because of proprietary vendor products. We need a national public safety communications infrastructure for interoperable voice and data communications similar to the federal highway system. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 provided for 90 percent federal and 10 percent state funding. The highway system that connects our small towns and major cities was built as part of our national defense strategy; for similar reasons, we need enforceable interoperability standards for all public safety voice and data communications.
In the United States, the unstructured networks of local law enforcement agencies across the country are primarily responsible for the protection of persons and property within their respective jurisdictions. It is through voluntary cooperation within the profession that most cross-jurisdictional crimes are investigated and solved. We do not have a national police force with local jurisdiction, as may be found in many other countries. Only through the IACP can we hope to influence national policy and set industry standards. We have greater influence collectively than any one agency has of its own accord.
Bringing together community organizations, governments, and businesses has been a formula I have found effective as the lead officer in the creation of the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network (OLLEISN), a highly effective program that has enabled over 750 agencies across Ohio to share information electronically. I was instrumental in bringing Florida’s child abduction response team (CART) concept to Ohio. I served as a member of the Records Management Systems Functional Standards Committee for the Law Enforcement Information Technology Standards Council, a national project supported by the IACP, NOBLE, NSA, and PERF, resulting in published standards for law enforcement dispatch and records management system design. I have participated in the intelligence-led policing summit and the mentoring program on behalf of the IACP, among other programs. I believe that synergy between local law enforcement agencies and state and federal agencies ensures a superior result for all parties.
Tight budgets, staffing shortages, travel restrictions, military service, and other duty commitments may make it difficult for many of our members to attend an IACP conference, but we can stay connected through the Internet. We can pay our dues and even attend classes online. I would like to see absentee voting online; I believe it will give members a sense of ownership even when they are unable to attend the annual IACP conference. Currently, only in-person voting is permitted, either at the conference site or at selected conference hotels.
I love this profession and believe that only through our association can we make the changes necessary to support local law enforcement effectively. I pledge to be a strong voice for local law enforcement agencies, representing your interests nationally and around the globe. For those of you unable to attend the conference in Denver, due to financial or other reasons, I sincerely wish to voice your concerns and represent your interests. To this end, I invite you to visit my Web site, www.oacp.org/vest/vesthm.html, to contact me or to learn more about my candidacy. InVest in Vest for IACP Fourth Vice President!