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Back to Archives | Back to January 2011 Contents 

President's Message

Introducing IACP’s Conference Rotation Plan

Mark A. Marshall, Chief of Police, Smithfield Police Department, Smithfield, Virginia

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he 117th IACP Annual Conference was a terrific success. Nearly 14,500 attendees from more than 80 countries had the opportunity to participate in workshops, network with their peers, and hear from speakers such as Vice President Joseph Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The Orlando conference also marked the beginning of IACP’s Conference Rotation Plan, which was approved by the IACP Executive Committee in 2006. Beginning this year and continuing through 2019, the annual IACP conference will be held in the following four locations:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • San Diego, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As the IACP begins this rotation plan, I would like to take this opportunity to review why this step was taken and the benefits forecasted for our membership and our association.

It is important to note that as a result of decade-long concentrated effort, the association has been able to assume full responsibility for financing the conference, thereby relieving host police departments of a significant financial challenge. Today, the association finances all of the major expenses including Host Chief’s Night, bus transportation, and entertainment. This enables the host police departments to focus on security; the opening ceremony; showcasing their community; and special events such as the 5K run/walk, golf, worship services, and hospitality.

This is no small feat. With an average of more than 14,000 attendees and over 750 exhibiting companies, the annual IACP conference is not only the world’s largest law enforcement trade show, but it is also one of the biggest conferences of any type. However, the sheer size of the annual conference presents both challenges and opportunities for the IACP.

On the plus side, the size of the annual conference provides the IACP with buying power and the ability to negotiate favorable agreements with hotels, convention centers, and other venues and service providers that are essential to a successful convention. On the negative side, the annual IACP conference has simply outgrown the ability of most cities to host the conference. In fact, there are currently only 10–14 cities within the United States that have the capacity to successfully host the annual IACP conference.

Realizing these facts, in 2003, the IACP Conference Committee along with the IACP leadership began exploring options that would allow the IACP to maximize its buying power and ensure that the annual IACP conference remained the outstanding educational and networking opportunity our members expect and deserve.

To that end, early in 2006, IACP staff, using information about convention centers, developed a grid of the convention centers with significant square footage to accommodate the IACP exposition and meeting space requirements.

The following guidelines were then developed and used for selecting the cities for consideration:

  • First-tier cities in population centers
  • A balance of cities around the country
  • Environmental considerations impacting the conference’s cyclical time scheduling
  • Ability for future growth of conference in terms of exhibit space and hotel rooms
  • Previous IACP conference experience, with positive results
  • Hotel availability and packages near the convention center, factoring in the attrition requirements

Once this was accomplished, a meeting specification document was developed and sent to cities that meet the established criteria. Information provided by the cities was made into a comparison chart. Meeting the established criteria were the cities of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Orlando, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; and San Diego, California. These cities became the choices for future conference sites. From each city, the chief of police, the city manager or the mayor, and the convention and visitors bureau endorsed the conference rotation between four cities.

This proposal was presented to and adopted by the IACP Executive Committee in the fall of 2006.

The rotation plan provides several key benefits to the IACP that allow for a better conference experience for attendees and assists with providing resources to the association to address the needs of all members. The plan includes the following:

  • Establish long-term contracts for services and venues
  • Stabilize hotel rates and minimize future rate increases
  • Provide for regional planning by police organizations to participate in the conference (enhancing the conference-within-a-conference concept)
  • Enhance the association financially by these factors:
    • Hotel clusters save on shuttle bus costs.
    • Locations, environmentally, are not recurring targets for severe weather situations.
    • Approach facilitates savings on conference center rental costs and hotel fees.
  • Facilitate planning and marketing the conference
  • Maintain existing working relationships with the host city and its police department

The benefits realized by the conference rotation plan will ensure greater efficiency in the planning and hosting of the annual IACP conference. This will translate into greater costsavings to our members while at the same time allowing the association to stage a world-class conference featuring premier educational tracks, world renowned speakers, and an unparalleled exhibition experience.

In fact, the outstanding success of the Orlando conference, the first held as part of the rotation plan, demonstrated the value of the rotation plan to the IACP. Because of the plan, IACP was able to secure premium dates for the conference, negotiate more favorable hotel contracts, and develop a more cost-efficient transportation plan for our membership. These same benefits will be realized by the association and its members at each of the conference sites in the years ahead.

As you can see, the conference rotation plan should benefit the association and its membership for years to come. It was adopted by the IACP leadership after careful consideration and guided by a continuing desire to ensure that the annual IACP conference continues to be the world’s largest and best meeting of law enforcement executives.

Historically, the IACP’s first conference was held in Chicago in 1893. As we turn this new historic page in the IACP annuals, I look forward to seeing all of you in Chicago this October and to the continuation of the tradition of IACP service to members. ■   

Please cite as:

Mark A. Marshall, "Introducing IACP’s Conference Rotation Plan," President's Message, The Police Chief 78 (January 2011): 6, (insert access date).



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVIII, no. 1, January 2011. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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