Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, Director, Woodway, Texas, Public Safety Department
irst and foremost, the IACP is about the members and serving them. As you know, the United States has gone through some unprecedented events this past year; some have been as the result of the economy, such as the shutdown of the federal government, and some have been human tragedies like those that occurred in Boston; Sandy Hook; the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.; and Nairobi, Kenya, this past year. Terrorists across the world continue to threaten our safety.
It is events like these that bring into clarity the importance of the IACP in making certain that we represent our membership in a responsible and credible way by providing the information and services they need to confront these issues as they occur in our communities.
During the coming year, I will focus my attention on four new initiatives:
- Violence and crime on our streets
- Mental health of our arrestees and how it affects your officers
- SACOP's role in the IACP’s Center for Officer Safety and Wellness
I will also continue to focus on two initiatives that were started prior to my tenure, but remain relevant to our membership: officer suicide and human trafficking.
Violence and crime on our streets: Around the world, many communities are confronted by unacceptable levels of crime and violence on our streets. Typically, a disproportionate amount of this violence involves young males killing other young males. In the United States, homicide is the second leading cause of death for young males 15–24 years old. This is simply unacceptable. It is imperative that we work with our partners in the criminal justice system to reduce the level of violence through an array of proven approaches. These range from early intervention to aggressive enforcement and prosecution to enhanced penalties for those that commit crimes with a firearm.
Mental health of arrestees and effects: Around the globe, our officers continue to experience an increase in interacting with people with mental illness, in crisis, on mental hold, under an emergency detention order, or who are suicidal. All too often, we have seen how the failure to provide appropriate care to those with mental illness can lead to lives of confusion, frustration, and anger. Tragically, we have seen these situations lead to incidents that result in the loss of their lives and the lives of others. It is imperative that law enforcement, health professionals, and our community leaders work collectively to find alternative options, such as mental health facilities or other treatment programs that will keep these individuals out of jail and on the path to a better, safer life.
SACOP’s Role in COSW: The IACP developed a Center for Officer Safety and Wellness that brings together all of the efforts of the IACP worldwide. A significant part of this effort is the role of SACOP. As a result, I have asked Vice President Kent Barker to work closely with SACOP General Chair Peter Carnes to enhance the work of the IACP Center for Officer Safety and Wellness and to further promote the work of the center and incorporate all the previous hard work done by SafeShield to recognize the need for a culture of safety within our ranks. We must insist that a culture of safety and wellness is paramount for all law enforcement agencies. No injury to or death of a law enforcement professional is acceptable, and we must work to accept and embrace this fundamental cultural shift.
Membership: The membership of the IACP is the lifeblood of the association. You are the leaders who will shape the law enforcement profession and the IACP for years to come. Much has changed over the past few years for our association: we have a new executive director and a new headquarters building, and we have revamped our rules and modified our constitution. However, the one area we have not examined is one that is essential to our association. Although over the past two years we have increased our membership to record levels, we have not conducted a complete review of our membership policies or processes.
To that end, I have asked Chief Steckler to work closely with the following individuals to examine aspects of membership, including membership recruitment; marketing to increase membership; and dues structure and tiers—all in line with our strategic plan:
- IACP First Vice President Rich Beary
- Texas Police Chiefs Association Executive Director James McLaughlin
- California Police Chiefs Association Executive Director Leslie McGill
- IACP Past President Russell Laine
- IACP International Vice President Barbara Fluery
It is my hope that these individuals will develop proposals that will empower the IACP to expand and grow in the coming years. And, as an important first step in this effort, I have a request of each of you. I ask each of you to recruit at least one new member to join the IACP in the coming year.
I want to leave you with one final thought. From firearms violence to civil disturbances, from the advent of cybercrime to the scourge of terrorism, police agencies around the globe are facing unprecedented challenges as they strive to fulfill their mission of protecting their communities. While our task is daunting, I am not dismayed. I view the challenges ahead of us as great opportunities for us to rise and overcome. For 120 years, the IACP has led the way for the law enforcement profession in meeting the challenges of its day. I am confident that with your assistance and support, we will live up to this proud tradition and “the IACP will continue to serve the leaders of today and develop the leaders of tomorrow.”
As your President, I am honored and thrilled to serve the Association and its members over the next year. I look forward to working with the Board of Officers, Executive Committee, and the IACP staff to address any and all issues and challenges that face us in the coming year. ♦
Please cite as:
Yousry Zakhary, “The Year Ahead,” President’s Message, The Police Chief 80 (November 2013): 6.