Director’s Column:  February 2012

In a recent article from the Harvard Executive Session, Christopher Stone and Jeremy Travis wrote about the “new professionalism” and the need for what they called national coherence. When I first heard the term it seemed to fit my own concept that the COPS Office should be a voice for local law enforcement, particularly within the Department of Justice. The primary strategy the COPS Office uses to implement this vision is our power of convening. By bringing law enforcement experts and subject matter experts together, the COPS Office can assist all of us in keeping pace with developing issues.

" By bringing law enforcement experts and subject matter experts together, the COPS Office can assist all of us in keeping pace with developing issues."

This month’s issue of the Dispatch provides some excellent examples of our current efforts to address the issues and challenges that we hear coming from the field. Quite recently, we hosted a forum on racial reconciliation and the role that local law enforcement needs to play in that area.  Notes from that meeting are recapped in this issue. This forum was part of an ongoing series to address critical issues in policing, and one of our next forums will be with union representatives around labor relations. The state and local public sector workforce is experiencing a significant challenge to the labor status quo from which law enforcement is not immune, so I expect this will be a lively and informative session. Look for a synopsis from that forum in an upcoming issue.

We also work with our partners inside and outside the federal government to bring you important information on emerging issues, such as the threat of synthetic marijuana and bath salts to the health and safety of our communities that is so eloquently expressed in this issue of the Dispatch by ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske. The recent webinar hosted by the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children on the growing dangers of bath salts had well over 1,000 live participants—the largest attended webinar they have ever hosted—an indication of how many of you are in need of information on addressing this rapidly growing problem. Through the Dispatch, we are able to bring you a summary of that webinar and instructions on how you can view the archived broadcast.

As we work to decide the topics of future forums, we want to hear from you who are doing the real work of American policing. What other issues are important to you in the field? I encourage you to tell us what the critical and emerging issues are in your communities, especially if you think it is a challenge others may be facing as well. You can send your thoughts to the editors of this e-newsletter, or to These inboxes are monitored by COPS staff and often are the source of new and interesting ideas. In addition, please let us know if you would be interested in attending one of our forums.  Many are in Washington, D.C., but over the next year there will be several held in various regions of the country, and one may be near you.  Help us use our convening power to help you, as we all work toward a model of a new professionalism and national coherence. It is through this working together that we will make all our communities safer.

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The Emerging Threat of Synthetic Drugs | National DEC Webinar on Bath Salts | Racial Reconciliation: The Heart of the Matter | COPS For Christmas | Director's Column | Did You Know...?