The value of your professional networking relationships

Guest Blogger: Lt. Christopher Cook, Arlington, Texas, Police Department

Most of you can probably remember when you were a rookie officer or an entry-level professional team member with your organization. The thought of professional networking likely meant making friends with those inside your organization or meeting colleagues at neighboring agencies. As you moved up the ladder or received a specialized assignment that had more influence, networking opportunities probably presented themselves in greater frequency.

Your membership in the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is one way to extend your professional network. I have been involved with the IACP since 2011 and served as the Chair for the Public Information Officers (PIO) Section since 2015. In my many travels to conferences, forums, and other meetings, I have made many friends along the way and built strong relationships with agencies across the globe.

I can recall many times reaching out to my peers at agencies from coast to coast to get expert advice and guidance on issues that I was facing in my hometown organization. It was always refreshing to know that some of my peer contacts had already dealt with similar situations and could offer help when I needed it most.

I wanted to take a moment and share a recent exchange between my home agency and one in California and Florida. Back in early April, Kaitlyn Perez, Community Affairs Director for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, reached out to me because a suspect they were looking for happened to be traveling through the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The result was coordinating a joint arrest of the suspect and ensuring the right messaging was put out on social media. Through our prior knowledge of one another, the telephone and email exchange went flawlessly. Ultimately, the community messaging from Sarasota was wonderfully orchestrated.

In a second but unrelated turn of events, the Arlington, Texas, Police Department where I work came across two videos that depicted youth violence and gang activity. While I reported the videos to Google as a violation of their terms of service, I did not get anywhere with removing the videos from the public YouTube site. I reached out to my colleague and friend, Captain Chris Hsiung of the Mountain View, California, Police Department, since I knew Google had business assets in the Mountain View community. As luck would have it, Captain Hsiung was able to connect me with a retired Mountain View lieutenant who works as the lead in Google’s Global Security Operations Center. This allowed us to expedite the request to have YouTube remove the two videos. YouTube removed the videos almost instantaneously after the connection was made.

It was then my honor to return a favor to Mountain View when they reached out to Arlington about our practices on releasing body-worn camera footage. Captain Hsiung inquired into best practices when preparing to release footage of a YouTube shooting suspect encounter. The insights would be instrumental in assisting the agency with their media push and strategy.

These are great examples of the value of belonging to professional organizations which allow you to grow and expand influence during important incidents. During the next IACP conference that you attend, be sure to get out and meet new people, exchange business cards, and forge new friendships. You just never know when you may have to call upon another colleague to get some help.

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