By Police1 Staff
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DALLAS — This year’s opening general assembly of the IACP Annual Conference began with a request from IACP President Dwight E. Henninger for the audience to pause to remember the tribulations of the past two years, from COVID to Hurricane Ida, which led to the 2020 and 2021 IACP conferences being held virtually.
“We must not lose sight of the impact of the past two years, now that we are gathered together again,” Chief Henninger said.
With the largest number of exhibitors in IACP’s history and an auditorium packed to the brim, it was evident that police leaders from across the country and around the world have flocked to Dallas for the annual conference after the two-year hiatus.
This year’s conference theme is “source of excellence” and Henninger noted that to make the effort to show up to a national event like IACP is no “mean feat, you are the people who show up,” he told the crowd, and that the best answers to the worst possible problems come when people of excellence come to work together.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson gave a warm welcome to attendees, first joking that he was probably in the safest room in the world, but then his tone turned serious. “Our cities in this country need quality law enforcement officers, community policing, accountability and data-driven policing and to get that we need strong leaders.” Johnson went on to speak about the challenges currently facing law enforcement including the “defund the police” movement, which he said he personally spoke out against, leading to protesters camping outside his house.
To find a strong leader to meet these challenges, Johnson turned to former San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia, who since being hired as the Dallas police chief in 2021, has led the attack against violent crime in the city with violent crime-prevention initiatives paying off with a 12% decrease in street-level crime in 2022.
Chief Garcia is known for speaking his mind and that was certainly the case when he took to the podium to greet the IACP audience.
“In my nearly 31 years in law enforcement,” Garcia said, “we have evolved from the way we patrol to the crimes we investigate but the one constant is that our communities need us. It is no secret that violent crime is rising in American cities. We need short- and long-term strategies to fight violent crime and the crime-related conditions that contribute.”
Garcia went on to outline some of the initiatives Dallas has put in place including hot spot policing, place network investigations and focused deterrence, with strategies developed in concert with criminologists, city leaders, community members, as well as the men and women of the Dallas Police Department.
Garcia went on to say that he has yet to speak at a community event and hear community members say they want fewer police officers – it is just the contrary.”The plan has proven that with more staffing and data-driven strategies, you can reduce violent crime,” Garcia said. “But we are not doing touchdown dances yet, there’s still a lot of work to be done. “
The IACP annual conference receives support from several major sponsors, including FirstNet, Motorola and Axon, all of which contributed inspiring videos during the opening ceremonies.
NEXT: Follow Police1’s IACP coverage here.