IACP 2015 Smaller Agency Track – An Attendee Perspective

Zuidema_Portrait1Guest blogger: Chief Brandon Zuidema, Garner Police Department, North Carolina

Each year, the IACP conference offers a variety of training “tracks” at the annual conference, and the 2015 Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago, Illinois will be no different. Focused on departments serving less than 50,000 residents, the Smaller Agency Track exists to develop and distribute resources to those of us in leadership positions in smaller agencies.

I’ve been fortunate to attend and present in conference training sessions and have found these sessions to be excellent opportunities to learn, to network, and – perhaps most importantly – to find chiefs and other leaders in circumstances similar to my own. I’ve been able to learn new ways to look at issues and concerns in my own department and across the police profession in areas such as leadership, supervisory liability, and being successful as a new chief. I’ve also been exposed to new programs, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn from others how to avoid common pitfalls in operational and personnel issues.

One aspect of my participation in the Smaller Agency Track that I have particularly appreciated is learning that programs and approaches I was considering have been successful in other agencies around the country. Although each community and department is unique, it is reassuring to find others with similar challenges and solutions. Having the opportunity to talk to other chiefs who have been successful has been both enlightening and rewarding.

If you are a leader in a smaller law enforcement agency and are unsure as to whether you will benefit from attending the IACP conference, trust me – you will. I consistently find that there are more sessions than I can realistically get to; in fact, I now bring another member of my command staff to the annual conference so we can “divide and conquer” in attending sessions.

Although I am looking forward to a long list of sessions this year, there are four that I feel are of particular note and are applicable across the board in smaller agencies:

1) Bridging the Generation Divide through Leadership – who among us is not challenged with finding a way to effectively communicate with, lead, and embrace the new generation of employees?
2) Grant Writing Fundamentals – as we all continue to deal with shrinking budgets and increasing responsibilities, the basics of grant writing become even more critical.
3) How to Improve Morale and Build Commitment in Smaller Agencies – we all struggle with the challenges of keeping employees engaged, motivated, and committed to today’s law enforcement mission, particularly in smaller agencies.
4) Selection Process for All Circumstances: Finding the Right Fit – don’t struggle on your own with the challenges of selecting the right employees for your department; learn tips and tools for making the best choice for your department.

Finally, if you’re on the fence about attending the IACP conference, I would encourage you to do so this year. With everything going on in our profession and the challenges we are facing, both old and new, we need now more than ever to expose ourselves to as much information as possible. Come to IACP 2015 and take advantage of the opportunities for seeing the latest trends in the Exposition Hall, joining in on the discussion to guide our profession on the national level, and participating in outstanding training, particularly in the Smaller Agency Track.

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