Vincent Talucci, Executive Director/CEO, IACP
As I am inflight back home to Washington DC, I am reflecting on the last week. IACP President Terrence Cunningham, 1st Vice President Donald De Lucca, and IACP staff set out to hear directly from police leaders from around the United States. Our visits have been dubbed with two working titles: first, to external folks, it’s called IACP’s Critical Issues Forums; second, to IACP internally, it is our Eight City Listening Tour. Regardless of the naming convention, the goal is the same – to hear directly from police leaders about the challenges confronting their respective agencies, the collective profession, and how IACP can assist on both fronts.
In the last seven days, we have met with more than 250 police professionals in five cities – Boston (MA), Houston (TX), Seattle (WA), Huntington Beach (CA), and Denver (CO). While we will put together a summation of the tour and identify regional differences, challenges, and opportunities at the tour’s conclusion, I wanted to offer my initial “off the cuff” thoughts while still fresh. My take – an overarching theme rose across the five listening sessions – the shared resolve to better understand gaps in trust where they exist; clearly demonstrate law enforcement’s commitment to the citizens they serve; and, work collectively to balance the public’s expectation of safety and service with the realities of policing.
What I saw was committed police leaders struggling to understand how things changed so much – yet who are not daunted by the challenges posed. What I saw was creative, thoughtful leaders who want to collectively right the ship – and ensure their respective communities feel both respected and protected and that their officers have the support both from their communities and their leaders they need to succeed and thrive. What I witnessed was a recognition and understanding that this is a much larger issue than law enforcement – but one that falls upon the police, whether appropriate or not. What I heard was a need for IACP to lead a much larger, intergovernmental discussion on gaps in existing social systems – that are largely being left to the police to address: homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, etc.
After a brief respite, we will continue the listening sessions in Orlando (FL), Cincinnati (OH) and a cross-border meeting with Michigan and Ontario, Canada, police professionals. If the next three sessions are as heartening as the last five, I am certain that what I will see is what communities around the United States and the world, see every day – reflective, engaging, courageous, caring police officers who are asked to be everything to everyone at all times.
We must, and will, find the balance of law enforcement’s duty and society’s responsibility.