October 2014—President’s Message: The Year in Review

yost_p-6The past year has been one of the most rewarding and challenging times of my law enforcement career. The opportunity to serve as the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has been a true honor and an experience I will never forget. Throughout my time on the IACP Board of Officers, I have had the opportunity to meet law enforcement leaders from around the world and work toward our shared vision of improving the law enforcement profession and enhancing our ability to protect the communities we are sworn to serve.

I am very proud of all that the association has accomplished over the last year. The commitment of the IACP leadership, membership, and staff never ceases to amaze me.

It is not possible in this brief column to list all that the IACP has accomplished over the past 12 months, but I would like to draw your attention to a just a few of the many highlights of this year.

Improving Officer Response to People with Mental Illness

A growing challenge for law enforcement officers around the globe is their increasing interactions with people who have mental illnesses and other disabilities, are in crises, are undergoing treatment, are suicidal, or are under emergency detention orders. Without proper training, these situations can become fatal.

Realizing the need for law enforcement, health professionals, and community leaders to work collectively to find alternatives, the IACP convened an advisory board of police executives, mental health practitioners, and police psychologists to develop approaches for encounters with those with mental illness and other disabilities.

Working closely with the advisory board, the IACP developed a tri-fold document that will be available at the IACP 2014 Annual Conference and Expo to help readers understand the issue, position chiefs as leaders to influence others, and provide information for building partnerships and implementing proven strategies. In addition, a plenary session will be held at IACP 2014 to discuss officer response to people with mental illnesses.

Reducing Violence and Crime on Our Streets

Many communities are confronted by unacceptable levels of violence on their streets. Typically, a disproportionate amount of this violence is young males killing other young males. In the United States, homicide is the second leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old males and the first leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-old African Americans.1

Another of my priorities this year was to work with our partners in the criminal justice system to reduce violence through an array of proven approaches. These approaches range from early intervention to aggressive enforcement and prosecution, as well as enhanced penalties for those who commit crimes with firearms.

An IACP advisory board that included law enforcement leadership, prosecutors, representatives from district attorneys’ offices, and other stakeholders, discussed street crime, the historic over-representation of African American youth as both perpetrators and victims, and possible solutions. The group provided their counsel to help each other better understand this problem and identify effective ways to handle violent crime in our communities.

This year at the IACP Conference, there will be a plenary session on Violence and Crime on Our Streets: How Police Leaders Can Improve Prevention and Response Strategies. This panel will take an in-depth look at all aspects of street violence, particularly violence by youth, and provide ways for law enforcement leaders to adjust their agencies’ strategies to reduce violence on the streets.

A tri-fold guide on how to reduce violence and crime on our streets will also be available at IACP 2014.

Representation of Law Enforcement

In addition to the above accomplishments, our advocacy efforts on behalf of the law enforcement profession and, specifically, police executives were a central focus of the IACP’s activities. Throughout the year, the IACP has been actively working with elected officials on a wide range of issues critical to public safety and the law enforcement profession. In the past several months, the IACP has been at the center of policy debates over law enforcement funding, immigration enforcement, wrongful convictions, officer safety, cybercrime, drug legalization, police-community relations, and law enforcement’s use of technology, to name a few issues.

As your president, I have had the honor of meeting with law enforcement leaders from around the world, including two meetings with U.S. President Obama and numerous interactions with the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and the heads of the various U.S. federal law enforcement agencies.

In all of these meetings and discussions, the IACP has ensured that leaders understand the impact their decisions have on our membership and on the ability of state, local, and tribal law enforcement to provide the services and protection expected and deserved by the citizens we serve.

IACP has also continued to enhance our partnerships around the world. Working closely with our international vice president Barbara Fleury and IACP’s world regional chairs, IACP has forged new partnerships with key international law enforcement organizations such as Interpol and Europol.

Clearly, this has been a remarkably busy and productive year for the IACP. It has been my heartfelt honor and privilege to have the opportunity to lead this amazing organization for the past year. I would also like to offer IACP 1st Vice President Richard Beary my congratulations and complete support as he assumes the IACP presidency. I am absolutely certain he will do a terrific job leading our organization.

Finally, I want to express my deepest appreciation to my professional colleagues; friends; the men and women of the City of Woodway, Texas; Woodway Mayor Don Baker and the entire Woodway City Council; and, most importantly, to my wife, Julie, and twin daughters, Lauren and Emily. All of you have played a vital role in allowing me to take on this tremendous challenge and experience it to the fullest. I look forward to continuing to serve the IACP in whatever capacity I can. ♦

1Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Youth Violence: Facts at a Glance.”

Please cite as:

Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, “The Year in Review,” President’s Message, The Police Chief 81 (October 2014): 6.