September 10, 2022

Much to look forward to this fall


PERF members,

Trending is back! And I’m back into my routine in the PERF office after a summer spent shuttling between Boston and Washington for PERF’s four SMIP sessions, as well as taking time to stand back and plan for the fall.

To me, autumn always feels like a fresh start. Although it’s been a few years since I was in school, I can feel the sense of excitement and renewal as students head back to their classrooms to start a new semester.

There’s excitement and renewal at PERF as well. This fall we’ll publish new reports, host in-person meetings, and expand our ICAT training program. In addition to ICAT expansion, PERF has also welcomed several new staff members, all of whom you will hear more about in the coming months.

I hope to see many of you at the PERF Town Hall Meeting in Dallas on October 16. We haven’t been able to hold a Town Hall Meeting at the IACP Conference since 2019, and I’m eager to hear what’s on your mind. That feeling of walking into the meeting and seeing all of you in person, the give and take of open discussion, this is all part of what makes PERF an organization based not just on ideas, but also on people. Please feel free to respond to this email with suggestions about topics we should address at the meeting.

Speaking of topics of interest, look for several new PERF reports in the coming weeks. One will examine the state of recruit training and lay out a roadmap for transforming the training process. I hope it will challenge the profession to move past obsolete principles and overhaul practices that, in some cases, haven’t changed for decades.

We’ll also release a report on women in police leadership. Building off a comprehensive survey, interviews with working groups, and a lively discussion at our annual meeting in San Francisco last spring, the report will present 10 action items to increase leadership opportunities for women in police and sheriffs’ departments.

As you’re all aware, agencies across the country are facing a staffing crisis. On November 3, PERF will hold a major conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss the innovative programs and strategies you’re using to recruit and retain police officers. Look for an email next week with more information.

In my conversations with police chiefs and sheriffs, they regularly emphasize the importance of first-line supervision. If we are serious about changing policing, the most important part of that change begins with first-line supervisors.

A chief needs sergeants who can translate the chief’s message to the officers on the ground, yet training for sergeants is often inadequate or nonexistent. To help address this deficiency, PERF will develop a state-of-the-art training program for both new and current sergeants, using some of the principles we used when developing ICAT. We expect it to be available in 2023.

HBCU interns presenting their recommendations

Also next year, we plan to expand our HBCU Internship Summer Program. This summer PERF and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) partnered with Morgan State University and Coppin State University, two historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), to pilot the new program. Eight interns were assigned to various BPD units, including victim services, evidence management, and recruitment. At the end of their 10-week internship, they presented recommendations for improving BPD operations to an audience that included BPD Commissioner Michael Harrison and the presidents of both universities.

Our inaugural class of interns visited the PERF office to share their experiences in the program

I am grateful to BPD, Morgan State University, and Coppin State University for partnering on this pilot program, and to the interns for their hard work. PERF plans to expand the program to agencies across the country next summer. Look for more information early next year about how your agency can be involved.

And after another successful summer for our SMIP program in Boston, I’m already looking forward to next year’s session. We will take a hard look at our 2023 program to ensure it continues to be cutting edge and builds on our great faculty, while also identifying rising stars to address emerging topics. Registration for the next session will open October 1 on the PERF website.

SMIP class in session

Finally, some updates about our ICAT training program. This summer we continued introducing ICAT to additional agencies through regional train-the-trainer sessions, and we’re planning to hold a national conference with representatives from as many ICAT agencies as possible. We want to hear about lessons you’ve learned in training your officers and deputies in ICAT; we’ll update the curriculum based on your input. Look for an upcoming announcement with details about that conference.

Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley welcomed trainers to the ICAT train-the-trainer session in Elgin, IL

Also, early next year we’ll open an international ICAT training center in Decatur, Illinois. I’ve been involved in the planning, and I’m confident that both the facility and the training will be state of the art. More details will be coming as we get closer to the opening in early 2023.  

Looking ahead for Trending, we plan to discuss a variety of issues relevant to PERF’s work. For example, a new federal law passed this summer will provide death benefits to the families of officers who die by suicide. This seems momentous, and next week we’ll talk about the impact it will have across the country.

Of course, not all Trending topics will be so somber. I look forward to once again making you all think — and sometimes laugh — about what emerges in policing and life. I can’t always be as smart or as funny as I’d like, but I see this Saturday column as a way of talking about relevant issues in a new way that generates discussion.

I hope you all had a great summer. I always feel fortunate to work for an organization made up of people who care about what they do and want to make a difference in these challenging times.

Thanks for your continued involvement in PERF, and I hope to see you at one of our many events this fall. As the old saying goes, here’s to new beginnings!