At the Washington Police Department, we use IACP Net to generate and share ideas.
By Chief Ken Hahn, Washington, Missouri, Police Department
At the Washington, Missouri, Police Department, we’re innovating all the time. We take great pride in our proactive approach to crime prevention by communicating with the public, making sure every policy is up-to-date, and working with schools to ensure safety. We have 35 commissioned and civilian staff in a town of about 15,000, all actively committed to community engagement and safety. IACP Net helps us more fully serve the needs of our tightknit community, and to be a visible, welcoming department.
In addition to staying active in K-12 schools through school resource officer (SRO) and DARE programs, we work with every school in the district—public and private—to enhance communication and identify security vulnerabilities. We assist them to shore up those vulnerabilities without breaking the bank, and keep in close contact by meeting with them once a month in case they have questions or updates.
In the age of social media, everybody knows something is happening within five minutes of an incident. For example, if we have an active shooter situation at a school, everyone in town would try to call the school district to figure out what’s going on. It’s inefficient. So in addition to aggressively pursuing active shooter drills, we have implemented a communication system that notifies all schools when an emergency happens. They can then decide what action, if any, to take.
Serving the needs of our community is challenging—especially when law enforcement trends change so rapidly. We are always looking for strategies to write and implement effective policy. IACP Net assists us with that, and we have been very pleased with how IACP Net has enhanced our understanding of best practices and our own community.
Within the last year, we achieved state certification from the Missouri Police Chiefs Association. I did my homework by searching IACP Net’s Policies e-Library—I found policies on use of force, mandatory body armor, SROs, and more, and modified them to fit the needs of our department.
I also stay connected to the excellent work of departments around the country by posting questions on IACP Net’s Quest-ResponseSM service. For example, I asked agencies to provide guidance on how to efficiently implement fitness standards for officers and draw up effective strategic plans. With IACP Net’s help, I learned what to look for and what to avoid.
In addition, we try to maximize resources to match the financial realities of the current economic climate—IACP Net is really an excellent investment. On rare occasions, city administrators have asked me to justify IACP Net as part of the budget, and when I respond with how important it is to me and the department, I receive no resistance at all.
We’re always trying to stay on the cutting edge, to lead the way rather than reinvent the wheel. I’m very proud of our conscientious officers and pleased with the community and city support. It’s the best of all worlds. I have been a member of IACP Net for more than ten years, and I’ve been very happy with what it offers. IACP Net is a valuable resource that supports us 24/7—it is always there when we need it.
[Editor’s Note: Chief Hahn has retired from the Washington Police Department. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.]