Walter A. McNeil, Chief of Police, Quincy Police Department, Quincy, Florida
irst of all, thank you for the opportunity to serve you: The members of perhaps the greatest law enforcement leadership association in the world. This past year has been all about what we as police leaders—working together with the IACP Board of Officers, the Executive Committee, and our extraordinary professional staff—could do to enhance and improve the availability of policing best practices, training, information, programs, and services around the world. During the past 11 months, our IACP staff, working with a number of IACP committees, has produced some incredibly promising work that will without a doubt have far-reaching positive outcomes for police administrators for many years to come.
When I was sworn in as your president in Chicago, Illinois, nearly one year ago, I vowed to you that, during my term, the first priority of the IACP would be to continue a comprehensive reduction strategy regarding violence against police officers. I am proud to say that every issue we have worked on, in every meeting I have attended, and in every relationship fostered, the number one priority continues to be the safety of our officers. In fact, a renewed focus of the association will be to continue this work to ensure that everything we do is looked at in terms of how it will positively affect officer safety. Working with staff, we also have looked at the current efforts on officer safety, wellness, and officer suicide. During this review it became apparent that steps needed to be taken to better coordinate and enhance our efforts in this critical area. To that end, I am pleased to announce the creation of the IACP Center for Officer Safety and Wellness. The center’s mission is to enhance the law enforcement profession’s ability to be well equipped, well trained, and physically and mentally prepared to confront violence and other threats and dangers inherent in policing. The center will be organized around the simple principle that no injury to or death of a law enforcement professional is acceptable.
An example of the work the center will produce is the recently released Law Enforcement Officers Killed by Felonious Assault in 2011. This document is a report that focuses on prevention through awareness by bringing together brief summaries of each line-of-duty death from felonious assaults in 2011. It is our hope that this document helps to facilitate awareness and highlights the necessity for law enforcement to rely on their training and remain vigilant when interacting with the public.
The Board of Officers and I are also proud to say that earlier this year the law enforcement community achieved a victory so important that it will affect the way we communicate with each other for the next several decades. On February 22, President Obama signed a piece of legislation that will allocate the D-Block to public safety. The IACP has been working with the law enforcement and the first responder communities for years to allocate the D-Block to public safety for the development of a nationwide, interoperable, public safety broadband network. This network will significantly impact the day-to-day lives of U.S. law enforcement and other first responders.
We also addressed modern policing issues such as information sharing, policing in the 21st century, police-corrections partnerships, and wrongful convictions. As I recently reported to you, several events have been scheduled for IACP 2012 in San Diego, California, September 29 through October 3, on law enforcement officer suicide, but our work will not end there. You should know that current and future IACP presidents are equally committed to the IACP’s unwavering efforts to address the issue of officer safety and wellness. And earlier this year, the IACP released a chief executive guide titled Police-Corrections Partnerships: Collaborating for Strategic Crime Control. This guide is designed for chief executives and focuses on the benefits and the typologies of police-corrections partnerships. The guide also addresses the development and the sustainability of collaborative partnerships and provides a blueprint for a partnership model.
In August this year, we convened a summit on wrongful convictions with the goal of improving law enforcement’s processes and operations to try and prevent wrongful convictions from occurring in the first place. I am happy to report that the summit was a success; the result of which will be a set of policy recommendations that is intended to provide clear guidance to officers, enhance community trust, build strong relationships with prosecutorial partners, and maximize departmental access to cutting-edge investigative technology for maximum investigative accuracy. Please look for those recommendations to be released in the coming months.
It is safe to say that we have embraced the issues of the changing world of policing. Needless to say, every issue we have addressed has not always been the most popular or easiest one. But, as police chiefs, it is our responsibility to speak up with the level of courage required to stand our ground on issues affecting law enforcement. We must never shy away from speaking to issues such as illegal firearms when our officers are being gunned down and outgunned on our streets every day. We must not shy away from speaking out against the more than 11,000 deaths by firearms in the United States each year alone.
As with this and every issue, we must not allow the politics of the hour to drive us away from the gains we have made over the last decade in driving crime down while building strong relationships in our communities through respecting the rights of all citizens. As police leaders, it is part of our responsibility to ensure that the public and the policy makers at all levels of government hear the insight of law enforcement professionals in matters that will affect our ability to protect the public we serve. It is what we are called to do. ♦
Please cite as:
Walter A. McNeil, "The Year in Review," President’s Message, The Police Chief 79 (October 2012): 6.