This week I'll be in Spokane at our Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) conference. It will be a busy time. My term as WASPC President ends with this conference. I will miss the intensive involvement in every major issue facing law enforcement in our state and nation, but not the demand on my time.
The original motivation to join WASPC 12 years ago still holds true - being a voice for small agencies and local law enforcement. Securing available out-of-county funding for local projects such as our sex offender monitoring officer and PACNET has made it worthwhile. The ability to sit down and network with other law enforcement executives face to face, getting to know them as people, is priceless. Here's a look at the agenda.
MONDAY I'll be attending committee meetings such as the Washington State Fusion Center board meeting, new member orientation and membership, and the intelligence/homeland security/technology meetings. The challenge is always communication between agencies. Large agencies (King County) have designated specialists to gather and process intel and data. Small agencies (Pacific County) rely on line deputies to do the same thing as well as answer calls. We may have the piece of the puzzle that is needed for the whole picture. Finding ways to share, sometimes just recognizing everyone's essential value in our roles, is key to the successful recognition of a threat prior to a disaster.
TUESDAY The morning has more committee meetings. Small Agency and Corrections are the two that I will attend. I may go to the Traffic Safety Committee to check for grant funding and Special Olympics as well. The opening ceremonies kick off at lunch with a memorial for our fallen officers. The afternoon brings sheriffs and police chiefs separate meetings, a town hall discussion on recent legislation, and our executive board meeting. This is our "business" day.
WEDNESDAY Today is training day. "Leadership in Critical Response: Meeting the Challenge" is the theme. Three blocks of instruction are featured involving panels of law enforcement executives who recently have dealt with:
1. Conducting a major criminal investigation involving the murder of a police officer;
2. The challenges facing a police executive when an officer is murdered;
3. Multi-Assault Counter Terrorism Program.
I'm facilitating the first panel with Sheriff Paul Pastor of Pierce County, Chief Bret Farrar of Lakewood, and Seattle PD Assistant Chief Jim Pugel presenting. This session will be a review of the investigation into the murders of the Seattle, Pierce County, and Lakewood officers. The goal will be to gain knowledge to prevent and mitigate these events of which we all are painfully aware can happen anywhere.
THURSDAY The day starts with a legal update on new changes in the law that can affect our daily contacts with suspects. This is one of my favorite sessions. Being current on the many changes in decisions by the courts is essential for our officers. The conference concludes with the general business meeting directly following.
This will be the final meeting I chair and I'm looking forward to it. I've really enjoyed serving on the executive board and this year as president I've had the opportunity to represent all law enforcement in our state in many diverse venues. It's given me a broader perspective listening to others' views on the issues. The experience has reinforced my core belief that local control needs to remain the cornerstone of public safety programs across our nation. My colleagues have teased me unmercifully during my tenure because my comments have to be so guarded in that I represented every agency, not just mine. After the conference I serve one year as past president. The position provides guidance and experience to the current president. However, I'll be able to take a much more active role in focusing on integrating small agency concerns into the greater good. Hooray!