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Back to Archives | Back to August 2012 Contents 

Candidate for IACP Fourth Vice President

Terry Cunningham

Terry Cunningham
Terry Cunningham
Chief of Police
Wellesley, Massachusetts, Police Department
Candidate for IACP Fourth Vice President

My name is Terry Cunningham, and I am pleased to be running as your candidate for IACP fourth vice president. I serve as chief of police in Wellesley, Massachusetts—a bedroom community just west of Boston, which is host to three large universities.

If you’re like me, you think being a police officer is one of the greatest jobs on earth and that being a chief is a leadership challenge unmatched by most professions. I am proud of my 30 years of experience in policing, including my service as chief for the past 12 years. During my career in professional policing, I have strived to serve as a leader in the law enforcement community, most notably through my tenure as president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association (MCOPA) in 2009, as vice president for four years before that, and as chairman of the MCOPA Legislative Committee for the past eight years. I am also the Massachusetts representative to the Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police (SACOP).

Like many of you, I am a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and I have continuously honed my leadership skills by attending programs such as the Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar (LEEDS) program in Quantico, Virginia; and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Education Program. I hold both a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University and a master’s degree.

I bring to this new challenge a variety of experiences that have made me the chief I am today. I have been involved in almost every assignment the job has to offer. I have been in uniformed patrol and worked as a patrol sergeant, a detective sergeant, a detective lieutenant, a deputy chief, and a chief. I have been an academy instructor, commanded a regional special weapons and tactics team comprising 45 agencies in the metro Boston area, and supervised a regional narcotics enforcement unit.

So that’s who I am, and here’s what I think. You see, I’m a believer. In the words of Bill Bratton, I believe that cops
matter. I believe that it is not just difficult but, rather, impossible to reinvigorate an impoverished neighborhood or improve the quality of life in a community without the committed and full engagement of the police. It is not lost on me why in a time of economic turmoil, crime continues to decline. Of course it does! As stewards of our communities, police officers have learned what we need to do to make our streets safe, and we hire people who can make that happen. I am proud to be a part of a law enforcement generation that hires officers who are better educated than our
predecessors and offers unprecedented quality training opportunities. It is equally exciting to witness our embracing technology not only to solve crimes and document our performance but also to push that information out externally through the use of social media to our communities. This does not involve our websites only anymore; it involves Facebook, Twitter, mobile applications, and other tools. We have become much more transparent in our policing, and this is beneficial for all of us.

It seems obvious to me that officer safety must remain of paramount importance. The year 2011 was one of the deadliest years in law enforcement history. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, in 2011, 163 police officers lost their lives nationwide, at a startling 34 percent increase over 2009. As police leaders, we understand that it is our responsibility to provide officers with the best training and equipment available to ensure their safety in the face of the numerous and varied threats they confront each and every day. As such, we must remain committed and invested to IACP’s SafeShield initiative.

Additionally, I fully support the IACP’s continuing fight for the creation of a National Criminal Justice Commission. It
has been 43 years since the Johnson Commission completed its work and recommended changes to our industry, which revolutionized our profession. It is unimaginable that our profession has no comprehensive strategic plan, on a national level, to recalibrate how we can utilize our dwindling resources. Our communities rely and depend on us to reduce crime and fight terrorism. The creation of the national commission is imperative to this mission.

As fourth vice president of the IACP, I give you my word that I will always uphold the values of our profession and make ethically based decisions. I will work to maintain the U.S. government’s focus on solutions that affect the safety and security of our constituents and our families. I promise to work hard and vigorously represent your views. I have done this in my community and in my home state. My record speaks for itself.

In closing, the ideals of leadership are sometimes a scarce commodity in our society, but they are common within the men and women of law enforcement. This is why I am honored to be considered for this position. Thank you for what you do every day! God Speed! ♦

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From The Police Chief, vol. LXXIX, no. 8, August 2012. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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