BY SCOTT DUMAS
In my role as National President I have had the good fortune to recently attend two international re-training conferences, the Africa/Middle East conference in Senegal, Africa and the European conference in Bristol, England. Now, I work for a small town, and although they have been very supportive in what I am doing, I do have to answer the occasional question in regards to my time away. For instance, I was recently asked by a member of my Board of Selectmen, what does the continent of Africa have to do with the folks in Rowley, Massachusetts. Fair question, right? So I explained sooner or later everything becomes a law enforcement issue. As law enforcement officers we protect and we serve. The protection part comes natural to us; it is the service part that is forever evolving. I went on to relate that one of the topics at the Africa/Middle East conference was what radicalizes an individual? What the discussion centered around is that although there are no cookie cutter reasons, what generally radicalizes the youth in their countries, of Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, Jordan and others, are the same things that radicalize the youth in France, Brussels, England, and the United States. And it is not necessarily an ideology, the ideology is just a catalyst, it is rather the disenfranchisement, a lack of belonging, which is the driving force for many. Please don’t misconstrue this statement. There are countless others that are plain and simple, criminals, and are now just criminals with a “cause”, but it is the former where there is potential to reach. We need to discuss, present, and offer other options. And since most things become a law enforcement problem sooner or later, I don’t believe there is an organization in the world better positioned to change this narrative, to prevent and provide better options than the FBINAA and our law enforcement partners. They use social media, we need to use social media better. They provide options for belonging, we need to provide better options. These options, these ideas and discussions need to take place in Rowley, Massachusetts as much as they do in Los Angeles, New York City, or Senegal, Africa.
At the European Conference the main theme was International Policing, Being Better Together. Giving all that is happening in the world, there has never been a time when there is a need for us, as law enforcement professional leaders, to be better together. I believe we have a role in demonstrating the proper way to manage differences, through proactive discussions and cooperative actions. I believe it is important for us as an Association and a profession to lead us as a society in the way that we communicate. Our Association touches over 170 countries. National origin, gender, party affiliation is never entered into the equation, just the desired outcome without the need for credit. There are no borders that our Association does not have the ability to cross. We are not perfect by any stretch of imagination, but our chosen profession demands we strive towards it and therefore we are always seeking to improve. Our Mission of Impacting Communities by Providing and Promoting Law Enforcement Leadership through Training and Networking provides us opportunities to continuously produce for those we serve and to be, better together.
During my address at the National Conference in Washington D.C., the statement was made that law enforcement is not broken; and we are not. To the contrary, my view on the state of law enforcement is we, as a group, are the backbone of society. We are solid. Because of our omnipresence we are relied upon to meet head on all the challenges that comes our way. We are asked to wear many hats to tackle those challenges, adapt and overcome obstacles to those challenges because the words “it can’t be done” are not within our vocabulary. At the writing of this article it has been two weeks since a psychotic madman made the decision to rain down hell on a group of innocent citizens in Las Vegas, and we are no closer to finding the motives that lead to it, nor may we ever realize them. The one thing that was evident was the leadership that is in place to manage that tragic event, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, graduate of the 227th session. Every Chief Executive’s nightmare, Sheriff Lombardo has handled the aftermath with poise, compassion, and professionalism. Although it is hard to fathom that this may have become the new normal, as a profession, as a society, we have to be prepared for that reality and impact it wherever we can.
Our new Executive Director Mark Morgan has taken a hard look at our Mission and Vision statement and has made it his first priority to make sure everything we do as an Association is tied to it in some way. Every chapter has been contacted to provide feedback so we can redevelop and further define our strategic plan. We need to be one voice in the development of our law enforcement leaders. We need to be pliable in our actions and responses. For example, in the 1970’s law enforcement was not asked about the potential consequences of de-institutionalization, we have just been tasked with the fall out over the past 30-40 years. Today the largest mental health institutions in the United States are LA County Jail, Cook County Jail, and Riker’s Island. A featured article in this publication summarizes the history of CIT teams, born out of a 1988 tragic event, and law enforcement’s response to that tragedy. Today there are hundreds of CIT agencies throughout the country. More are needed however because the issue of mental health and the percentage of individuals we deal with that have some sort of mental health issue on board is not going to diminish anytime soon. This is an opportunity to provide our people with another tool.
Before I close, I want to take a moment to recognize the first responders and every day citizens who reacted in the wake of Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria. I’d also like to take a moment to remember Sergeant Steve Perez, 210th session, who lost his life responding during Hurricane Harvey. Although the events have fallen from the front pages, the devastation left behind in the wake of these storms continues to impact many today.
And lastly, our newest members to join our Association are an impressive bunch. Those of us who were able to attend the National Conference in DC got to see that first hand. With volunteers running short on a few of the events, members of the 269th session volunteered their time and came up to the conference to fill in wherever they were needed. They followed up with acting as tour guides to the FBI Academy for those that made the welcome home event. During graduation, their elected class speaker Marco Gonzalez, of the New York City Police Department delivered a powerful speech to his session mates on family, profession, and mission. I can assure you all, our future is bright.
With every event I attend and every new member I meet reinforces our vision of continuous development of the world’s strongest law enforcement network. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished by a dedicated group of men and women committed to serve. Thank you for choosing the profession you have chosen.
Be safe, be strong, be vigilant, and be proud!
Scott A. Dumas
President FBI NAA
Rowley, Massachusetts Police Department
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