A unique opportunity is upon police leaders and the technology vendors that support the law enforcement community as The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conducts its annual meeting in Chicago, Oct. 25-27. The gathering brings 15,000 members of the preeminent police industry organization together from among public safety agencies around the world.
The annual gathering is nothing new – IACP has been promoting collaboration among police executives since the association was founded in 1893. However, this year is likely to take on increased importance because of a simmering issue and one certain guest speaker.
Police credibility is being questioned by a small but growing segment of the population, and that concern is likely to be a hot topic for the international media corps attending this year’s meeting to hear from a very prominent invitee – U.S. President Barrack Obama. No one knows if the President will directly address emerging dissatisfaction with policing, or perhaps offer support to law enforcement as it copes with increasing pressure to keep the public safe. One thing is for sure – the heightened media attention at this year’s meeting will magnify any gap between what the public is perceived to be demanding and what police leaders seem capable of delivering.
Fortunately within this dilemma there is great opportunity, especially for technology providers, and not simply the kind which grows their bottom lines. Law enforcement needs to redevelop a positive public opinion of its ability to address community concerns while still tackling growing challenges and a new internet-connected, worldwide criminal element. Who better to help do that than a group of innovative, motivated, big-picture thinking technology providers?
However, improved technology, cloud efficiency savings, analytics, biometrics and overall better integration won’t be enough. Vendors will need to help law enforcement shine under the media microscope and assist in convincing the public that safer communities will be the result of such new technology deployments, and that transparency and accountability will rule the day without sacrificing privacy. It will take more than just selling and implementing cutting-edge devices and services; we have to show we really care.
As police executives know, public confidence and support for law enforcement provide the greatest levels of crime-fighting ability and officer safety. The technology industry is being offered a chance to prove it is worthy of helping a companion in need with more than just a quick sale. In law enforcement, it’s called having your partner’s back, and you do it because you’re in it together. Public safety agencies around the globe have been good to all of us in this sector, and I think we owe it to them to help tell their story in a way that regains citizen admiration for the tough job they perform. We may never have a better opportunity or a brighter spotlight under which to play such an important supporting role. Unisys helped sponsor this year’s IACP meeting because we think our company and the industry as a whole are up to the task.