FROM THE NET WORKS NEWSLETTER, WINTER 2004, VOL. 20, NO. 1
[Editors’ Note: Jeff Ledford has been promoted to Chief of Police of the Shelby Police Department since this article was written.]
With the help of information from IACP Net, the Shelby, North Carolina, Police Department is introducing a new service: a citizens’ police academy. According to Captain Jeff Ledford, the program “is one way we can open up to the community and say, ‘Here’s what we do, and this is why we do it.'”
A proponent of community policing for many years, the 68-member agency views the citizens’ academy as an extension of the department’s community-oriented philosophy. “Our chief has instilled community policing in us–not just the actions, but the philosophy itself,” said Capt. Ledford, who describes the academy as “a service to the citizen, whom we view as our customer.”
Not satisfied with the results of the standard Internet search engines, Capt. Ledford used IACP Net to learn how other police departments had implemented citizens’ police academies in their communities. “I went to IACP Net and posted a Quest [a request for information from other members] describing what we wanted to do and asking other members if they had any information or suggestions that would help us. We received responses from all over the country. People sent us electronic copies of their manual and examples of presentations.”
The citizens’ police academy is now getting ready to hold its first session. “I look for us to have a very successful run, and that’s going to be largely due to the IACP Net members who helped us get here. To say that IACP Net cut our workload in half would be an understatement,” said Capt. Ledford.
Capt. Ledford’s experience illustrates the benefits of IACP Net’s vast collection of resources. With more than 1,000 member agencies, IACP Net is the leading information and networking tool for law enforcement professionals. The service allows members to search databases of law enforcement information, communicate with other members, research grants available for law enforcement agencies, receive news updates and more.
The department has also used IACP Net to research other law enforcement issues, such as canine program tracking software and taxi ordinances. “Our canine crew needed software to track the progression of our program, so I put a Quest on IACP Net. I received responses the next day. When the officer responsible for taxi permits wanted to update our taxi ordinance, I put a Quest on IACP Net and received five examples,” said Capt. Ledford.
Also, IACP Net helped the city avoid potential liability when the department introduces Tasers, a less-lethal Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) weapon. Other departments have faced challenges providing medical treatment to people on whom Tasers had been used. “We received a tremendous amount of feedback from IACP Net on the use of Tasers. People not only gave us their policies, but said, ‘Here are some of the problems we’ve run into, so you can address them on the font end,'” said Capt. Ledford. “We were able to look at the issue of medical treatment in more depth and handle it in our policy.”
Capt. Ledford views IACP Net as more than a research tool for the Shelby Police Department. “IACP net gives you the world at your fingertips. We all know the importance of networking. We call other administrators and other chiefs whenever we need help. With IACP Net, you expand your network all over the United States. It’s a resource for your toolbox that will never gather dust.