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Back to Archives | Back to August 2013 Contents 

Remembering Our Past and Preparing for the Future—The Relocation of IACP Headquarters

By Bart R. Johnson, Executive Director, IACP


ith a tradition rich in history and a transition that heralds innovation and advancement, the IACP will be marking its 120th year of serving professional policing by relocating to a new headquarters building in late September 2013.

The waterfront property at 44 Canal Center Plaza in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Virginia, will provide staff and visitors alike with a contemporary, hi-tech setting and will continue the proud narrative of the IACP’s founding and its growth over more than a century.

We Begin With the Past

The French poet Anatole France once noted that, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves.” This may be the case for many association staff and leadership, some of whom have been a part of the IACP family for decades and have grown accustomed to the solid walls and pastoral grounds of the current headquarters at 515 North Washington Street.

On an October day in 1992, then IACP President Steven R. Harris dedicated the current headquarters building along with many members of the association’s leadership who played critical roles in the establishment of the IACP as a strong and vibrant organization; one that continues to serve as the professional voice of law enforcement to this day.

The five-story columned structure that has housed the IACP for 21 years has seen service as a cotton mill, a bottling house for the Portner Brewing Company, a spark plug factory, an apartment house, and finally as an office building for attorneys prior to its full sale to the association in July 1992. Of note, in May 1861, the building was seized by the Union Army for use as a hospital and logistical supply center during the Civil War and eventually converted into a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. Overseeing much of this history is Oscar, the dedicated but decaying mannequin that has kept watch from the cupola of the building since a murder mystery unfolded at the location during the 1860s.

Remarking on the historic, pre-civil war building, President Harris noted that the move would, “mark the beginning of a new era for the association,” and so it did.

We Look to the Future

Since opening the doors to its current headquarters building, the IACP has born witness to sweeping changes across the landscape of law enforcement. From a time when images of “broken windows” first hinted at a novel concept that would become community policing to the present day when police professionals face invisible threats in the form of cyber crime and radicalization against a constantly changing backdrop of technology, the IACP has been at the forefront of addressing and responding to critical and emerging issues.

In order to meet those challenges and address these evolving areas of concern head on, the governing body recognized that the IACP and its infrastructure must evolve and change. With a nod to the past, but both eyes on the future, the association has secured a modern headquarters location that will empower both the staff and leadership to more quickly and precisely answer the call of the membership and the broader community of national and international law enforcement leaders.

The Canal Center Plaza location will unite the full complement of association staff, which has been working from two locations for the past several years; often in cramped and inadequate space. The synergy and energy alone that will result from this integration of staff will generate a solidarity and unified sense of purpose that IACP personnel have long been seeking.

Technological capacity at the site will far exceed the limitations imposed by the current headquarters building and will permit the association to engage in more timely and relevant exchanges of information with members in the hi-tech formats and delivery systems demanded by today’s police professionals. And the newly and professionally renovated location will eliminate the need for costly and labor-intensive upkeep that is currently required for a historic building that is closing in on 170 years of withstanding wind, weather, and war.

An Invitation to Innovation

While the association will be executing the transfer of people and property the month prior to the annual conference, the changeover will flow smoothly with the support of professional transition teams that will provide expert assistance in packing, moving, and re-establishing core functions. The IACP will be open for business as it moves through this exciting next step to a future that builds on a solid and storied past.

The leadership of the IACP invites its members and guests to visit the new location, engage with the staff, and truly become a part of our mission: Serving the Leaders of Today, Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow. ♦

Please cite as:

Bart R. Johnson, "Remembering Our Past and Preparing for the Future—The Relocation of IACP Headquarters," The Police Chief 80 (August 2013): 20–21.



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXX, no. 8, August 2013. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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