The Challenge of Choosing Sessions that Fit the IACP “Spirit”

Guest Blogger: Lynn Hightower, Communications Director, Public Information Officer, Boise, Idaho, Police Department

The annual IACP conference in Chicago, Illinois, is just two months away. The workshops are online and the speakers are confirmed. Now, as a session track coordinator, I feel like I’m throwing a party and hoping someone attends!

The spirit of the IACP is to champion training, advance the police profession, and promote the exchange of information and experience between agencies. This is all according to the IACP Mission. Public communication skills are critical to achieving this mission, and this is why coordinating workshops for the Public Information Officer (PIO) section is a pretty serious task.

In creating the PIO section track agenda, I review workshop suggestions submitted from a variety of sources and I create workshops based on my own personal conversations, observations, and experiences. I want the session to be a complete representation of today’s best practices in law enforcement public communications, valuable to chiefs and PIOs, and relevant and workable to agencies of all sizes in any community.

One of the challenges is feedback. I’m a professional police PIO and have been for eight years. Thanks largely to the IACP, I’ve made lots of connections with other PIOs and chiefs, and I try to follow what’s happening around the country regarding lessons learned, challenges overcome, and new technologies and strategies worth sharing. But still, as a section track coordinator, there’s always that worry of whether or not IACP attendees will find the selected workshops valuable enough to attend.

This year, at each PIO section workshop, we will be asking those in attendance to offer feedback and make suggestions for topics they would find valuable. We are all busy, and the conference will be an even busier time for many of us. But for the sake of keeping the annual IACP conference the best training opportunity offered anywhere—and for the best value—please consider the usefulness of the PIO sessions you attend, and then take a moment and offer us your thoughts and feedback. Sharing information and experience is the IACP spirit, and we and our agencies will be better off for it.

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