I.A.C.P. PRESIDENT WILLIAM BERGER 

A.I.P.S. FOUNDATION BOARD MEMBER 

INAUGURATION SPEECH 10-31-2001

The following speech was delivered by William Berger, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Chief of Police in North Miami Beach Florida, at their annual conference held this year in Toronto, Canada. The I.A.C.P. is the largest law enforcement association in the world. Chief Berger has been a senior member of the A.I.P.S. Foundation's advisory board since 1998.

NOTE: Section 5 and Chief Berger's initiative on aggressive driving.

CHIEF BERGERíS IACP SPEECH

 I am very humble, honored, and very excited about assuming the office of President of our association.  I am very fortunate that I inherit from President Bruce Glasscock and our presidential predecessors, an organization that can be best described as a finely tuned machine.  Many hard decisions have been made over the years, which have put us in the position that we enjoy today.  Those decisions allow us to embark on ventures never before dreamed.

As I assume command of our organization, I will be guided by the past presidents who stand before me.  To my right, I will have, in my opinion, some of the best Vice Presidents and Board Members in the history of IACP; Vice Presidents Joe Samuels, Joe Polisar, Joe Estey,  MaryAnn Viverette, Lonnie Westphal, newly elected Sixth Vice President Joe Carter, Jim McMahon of S & P, and Russ Laine of SACOP.  To my left, our Executive Director Dan Rosenblatt and his outstanding and truly dedicated IACP staff.  Directly behind me, my mentor and this yearís Parliamentarian, one of IACPís most beloved past presidents, Dave Walchak, guiding me all the way on this yearís journey. 

Before I go into my personal blueprint for IACP for the upcoming year, if you would please indulge me, as I feel extremely compelled to personally thank some very special persons who have and continue to be supportive of my efforts, for which I am eternally grateful.  First, let me thank my wife Denise, who has persevered for the past six years, along with my five children who are by my side tonight.  Many times over the past six years I have grabbed a suitcase and grabbed a kiss as I jumped on an airplane, not seeing my family sometimes up to seven days.  Thanks sweetheart for your unselfish support.  I also want to thank my kids, Billy, Jennifer, Steve, Tim, and little Jessica.  Sometimes, we forget about those very special people who sacrifice many things to allow us to serve our association.  Let me further thank all the wives and husbands of the current board of officers for their sacrifices and support.  You are truly very special people.  I can never say thank you enough for allowing me to have the privilege of serving with your husbands and wives. 

To the Florida Police Chiefs Association, who ten years ago had a dream that someday a Floridian would have the privilege of becoming IACP President.  Of these Florida Chiefs, there are a few who played a very special role in helping me to attain that goal.  My mentor, who is affectionately referred to as the Dean of Florida Police Chiefs, Chief Bill Liquori of Altamonte Springs, Tim Moore, our long time Executive Board Member and Director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Past Florida President Frank Ross who started that dream, and my campaign team, who have been there from the beginning: Chiefs Marshall Gage, Steve Dembinsky, Tom Ribel, Linda Loizzo, Gary Grosser, and to my secretary who is here today, Ms. Sharon Silverman who has put up with a schedule that can best be described as ďMinute ManĒ.  There are two other very special men, who unfortunately are no longer with us, the revered former IACP past president Rocky Pomerance and Lee McGehee, former police chief of Ocala, Florida. 

Of course, this day could not have occurred if not for the support of my City, the City of North Miami Beach and our Mayor Jeff Mishcon, along with both past and current City Managers, Michael J. Roberto and Gary Brown, respectively, and my City Attorney Howard Lenard whose wife you just met, Federal Judge Joan Lenard who is my very special good luck charm.  We, in North Miami Beach, share a true family attitude, always supportive of each otherís endeavors.  Thank you, Mayor and Council.  I would also like to thank my personal friends for being here and making this installation that much more special. 

Now to the business of IACP.  The majority of this speech was written in August, however, the events of September 11th have forced me to change the priorities and initiatives of our association for the next twelve months, which I will refer to affectionately as ďIACPís Blueprint 2001/2002Ē.

As we all now know, worldwide terrorism is not just an American problem.  The perpetrators and murderers involved in the September 11th incidents, virtually walked amongst us and their co-conspirators continue to walk amongst us every day.  The initiative to rid the world of these terrorists is not a national, federal, or a statewide problem, it is a law enforcement problem.  If we are to win this war on terrorism, it will not be as a total result of military action.  It will occur from an all-out effort of both military and domestic law enforcement efforts.  But to be successful in this war, we must trust each other.  If we cannot trust each other by sharing information and working together, we will not be successful and the events of September 11th will re-occur again and again.  I am asking First Vice President Joe Samuels to undertake the job of building and bridging law enforcement relationships necessary for all of law enforcement to work hand-in-hand.  Receiving a teletype message placing all of us on high alert, warning us to be wary, is not trusting each other.  We must work hard to inform, educate and reach out to all our membership to prepare ourselves for this long struggle.

Coupled with this anti-terrorism initiative will be a concentrated effort to increase our associationís legislative profile. This year, as we visit various venues around the country, we will encourage local congressional representatives, senators, and governors to attend our board meetings.  The purpose of this aggressive initiative will be to have these elected officials get to know our organization; not by reputation, but up front and personal.

I am asking Chief Eddie Mosca, our current Chairperson, of our Legislative Committee, along with Gene Voegtlin, IACP staff, to be present during all of our meetings to personally assist Vice President Samuels in facilitating these legislative initiatives.  Several years ago, Past President Mike Robinson called for a commission on law enforcement.  Thus far, that has not occurred.  But that flame has not extinguished.  It will continue.  This legislative initiative will be an important part of achieving our worldwide recognition.

Initiative two:  Staff has done a tremendous job in the recognition of IACP within our profession, however, externally, we need to concentrate our efforts so that IACP becomes a household word.  When people think of ďBig BlueĒ, they should not think of IBM, but IACP.   I am asking Second Vice President Joe Polisar to develop a plan of action to enhance IACPís image and recognition.  It frustrates me greatly when I see folks from various organizations speaking on behalf of Chiefs of Police or management who have absolutely no knowledge, experience, or frankly business, speaking on our behalf.  We need to educate the mainstream media around the country that the IACP shall be the main voice of law enforcement in this country and around the world.  This initiative goes hand in hand with the second part of this goal, to gain corporate recognition of IACP.  A couple of years go, through the great efforts of ITT Night Vision, Motorola Corporation, Blackington Badge Company, Parade Magazine, and as Joe has just advised, Southwest Airlines in recognizing Indian Country, IACP was able to develop strong partnerships with various corporate giants for the purpose of distinguishing our members or their departments.  Iím asking Joe to take on this second initiative, to reach out and dramatically increase our presence amongst not only corporate America but the corporate world.  All IACP standing committees and sections will be asked to develop corporate partnerships to distinguish their members or departments for performing outstanding work in their particular areas of law enforcement disciplines. 

Initiative 3:  Crime Prevention Ė I am asking IACP Third Vice President Joe Estey, to review this very important personal effort.  For years, as a Commander of Homicide with the Miami Police Department, I took great pride in the fact that my unit was able to establish a high clearance rate.  Later, as I matured, I began to realize that the quest for high clearance rates was accumulated at the expense of people losing their lives. In law enforcement, clearance rates, along with UCR, have been law enforcementís only measurement of success.  This of course, is generated by an uneducated media.  God help you if your communityís crime rate was up while the rest of the county or surrounding cities were experiencing double-digit decreases.  This madness has forced police departments to under-report, reclassify various crimes, or just plain not tell the truth.  How many of us have heard from our communities that we have won the war on crime.  As a response, we see cutbacks in resources.  In reality, as so-called UCR numbers are down, calls for police service are blasting off the chart.  But again, itís not sexy enough to be reported by the media.  Iím asking Joe to develop a crime prevention blueprint, along with strategies to re-educate the media and the public to not rely strictly on UCR or clearance rates as law enforcement benchmarks of success.  Joe will need to assemble IACPís Crime Prevention and Community Policing Committees, academia and cities or counties who have grasped this concept in order to develop this crime prevention blueprint that will focus not only on reducing crime but calls for service. 

Joe will also be asked to oversee IACPís first summit on DNA being conducted in partnership with former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir.  Let us never forget that it was the IACP that created the first repository for fingerprint collection in the United States.  This fingerprint collection effort proved to be the most innovative crime-fighting technique that existed in its time.  Time changes but we have a window of opportunity of being instrumental in the creation of a national DNA database. 

I am also asking Joe to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the International Crime Stoppers Programs.  Joe will be asking such questions as, ďAre these programs working?  Are they effective?Ē  ďHow can law enforcement play a bigger role?Ē

Joe will also be asked to develop an IACP liaison with the newly established office of Homeland Security, again to assist in the development of anti-terrorism and organize crime prevention strategies. 

Finally, I am asking Joe to assemble our brightest for the purpose of developing a standing law enforcement think tank for the purpose of forecasting crime trends and predicting crimes that law enforcement will address in the future. 

Initiative 4 - Six years ago, Past President Dave Walchak asked me as the newly elected Sixth Vice President to undertake a review of police ethics and image and establish an ad hoc committee which through Daveís energy and my persistence, that committee is now a permanent standing committee.  But it cannot stop there.  Ethics and professionalism must be our associationís top priority. 

Recently our association, through the efforts of the Ethics & Image Committee, has produced the Oath of Honor videotaped. The Oath of Honor was developed to instill a short, quick reminder of our core ethical values.  I am asking Vice President Mary Ann Viverette to undertake an initiative to distribute and insure that the Code of Ethics is not only distributed but incorporated into our ceremonies and is evidenced through a notation by a Sign-on Program giving testimony to our professionís commitment to the concept of police ethics.  I am also asking Mary Ann to look at our hiring standards.  These hiring standards are basically the same as they were in the 1800s, which require a G.E.D. or high school diploma.  Today, itís speculated that 85% of the men and women in the police field still only have a high school diploma or G.E.D. degree.  Iím asking Mary Ann to link up with members of the Ethics Committee and Education & Training Committee to review education levels of entry and in-service level officers.  I find it incomprehensible that police leaders claim that they cannot effectively recruit men and women, especially minorities because of proposed increased educational requirements being a barrier.  What I am about to say may be construed as critical, but we need to get our head out of the sand and say that we are not going to lowering our standards to meet our hiring goal, but instead, increase these standards.  Iím also asking Mary Ann to review de-certifications and specifically the education levels of those decertified, for the purpose of substantiating if there is a strong correlation between education levels and de-certification of law enforcement officers.  I am convinced that if the standards bar is raised, the men and women who truly want to serve their communities will strive to reach that bar. 

Initiative 5:  It troubles me greatly when I hear state superintendents of police tell me that on any given day, there are hundreds of individuals who have had five or more convictions for D.U.I. still driving on the streets of their community.  That is appalling.  Who better than our Fifth Vice President Lonnie Westphal, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol, to be charged with reviewing our current state of enforcement of both D.U.I. and D.R.E. programs.  Iím asking Lonnie to reach out to the state patrols and the world to establish data on the state of D.U.I. and D.R.E. to provide to our membership.  With ecstasy being sold in this country in record volumes and becoming the #1 drug among our youth, replacing alcohol, it is imperative that we strengthen our D.R.E. programs which unfortunately, due to costs and training requirements, have eroded over the past several years.  Remember, enforcement of D.U.I. and D.R.E. programs translate into saving lives. 

Another area that Iím asking Lonnie to look into is aggressive driving.  This is a topic that arose in the late 90ís and will no doubt carry over into this new millennium.  Aggressive driving is a topic we need to come to grips with through education, training, and most important, prevention.  Iím asking Lonny to look at all current programs that exist today so as to avoid what is becoming too commonplace, death and serious injury resulting from aggressive driving.

Looking back to before September 11th, the number one topic facing policing was biased-based policing or as the media would like to describe it, racial profiling, or driving while black.  This is an issue that we in law enforcement must take leadership in.  Therefore, Iím asking newly elected Sixth Vice President Joe Carter to oversee and work with the Civil Rights Committee in defining what biased based policing is and develop policies and police practices to prevent it.  Biased-based police practices are not only unlawful, they are unforgivable.  We must clearly take hold of this issue.  This is not merely a black and white issue, for if we are content with just addressing the immediate problem.  We will be back to the table within a short period of time, readdressing these same issues, just with different groups of affected people.  Remember, We are the experts.  We need to set the table and not allow politicians who are attempting to embarrass and insult the intelligence of law enforcement by saying that they have the answers when in fact they donít even know what the problem is.   

Initiative 6 - Defining our global blueprint.  Iím asking International Vice President Emile Perez to increase his already overloaded work schedule to ensure that IACPís blueprint is permanently etched throughout the world.  We have been very successful through the efforts of our Executive and Assistant Directors and the work of Paul Santiago in setting up missions and outposts.  In just the last several years, we have set up a regional world headquarters in Durbin, South Africa, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Dublin, Ireland and there are many more venues on our global drawing board.  It is important for the ďIĒ in IACP, which stands for International, be fortified with the continuance of these efforts in establishing world regional headquarters.  It is important that someday a man or woman standing before you is elected will be from a country outside of North America.  This will tremendously validate our organizationís commitment to the ďIĒ in IACP.

I am also asking Emil to oversee our IACP Summit on international training initiatives.  This program will be held in Quebec City and will focus on terrorism and public disorder committed by organized groups such those that created havoc recently in places such as Seattle, Quebec, Washington, DC, and Italy.  I am also asking Emil to conduct a global review of the problem of trafficking in human beings.  The IACP needs to take leadership in this very serious global crime.

Initiative 7 - Child and vehicle occupant safety are good guy issues.  It is completely unimaginable to see a child killed because of a failure of a guardian, parent, or adult to securely fasten that child in a seatbelt or child restraint apparatus, but it happens every day.  We have to protect those children.  We are our childrenís guardians.  I applaud the automobile manufacturers in stepping up in their efforts with IACP in supplying child restraint devices at no cost.  This is an important first step.  Recent studies that were undertaken the last several years by our friends at NHTSA, indicate that over 50% of all children in child safety devices are not properly secured.  This is appalling, but real.  Also, we still have states that have not made the wearing of seatbelts a primary offense.  Our good friends in NOBLE have indicated that counter to some claims, that this will be more enhanced racial profiling and attempts by police to pick on the minority community.  NOBLE has realized that seatbelts save lives.  I am asking Superintendent Jim McMahon, General Chairman of our State & Provincial Police Section, to reach out and identify those states that have not passed primary seatbelt laws and develop an effective program that will save lives.  I am also asking Jim to review the current state of vehicle airbag safety.  Airbags are supposed to act as the failsafe, secondary back-up, to prevent critical accidents.  Studies that have been done in Florida and California recently indicate that vehicles, which have been involved in accidents where airbags have been deployed, that less than 50% of the airbags actually work.  It is alarming to discover that thefts of vehicle airbags have increased drastically over the past ten years.  However, what is even more alarming is the fact that corrupt body shops are not replacing deployable airbags, but only applying covers or electrical apparatus with corrupted sensor devices to get around having to re-install the actual airbags.  We in law enforcement need to educate the public and our elected officials to pass strong laws against any individual that would do such an unethical act and they be punished severely.

Another important initiative in my blueprint, Iím asking Russ Laine, the General Chair of State Associations of Chiefs of Police, to look into police union practices, especially votes of no confidence.  We need to do research and publish the various attempts by unions to discredit our membership.  I strongly believe that unions have their place in law enforcement and have greatly benefited all of us.  However, when union leadership takes it upon themself to maliciously attack individuals for self-serving purposes, itís time to fight back.  Iím asking Russ to see what can be done to better educate our membership as to techniques being used by unions to attack our membership and develop initiatives to mediate problems before they get to this point of non-talk. 

For the final initiative, I will attempt to assemble what I affectionately refer to as The Big Top Summit.  To this Big Top Summit (BTS), I will be inviting all members of the law enforcement family, PERF, NOBLE, FOP, Police Foundation, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, The Hispanic Officers Association, National Sheriffs Association, NOWEY, and numerous other groups for the purpose of coming together in Alexandria at a neutral site to discuss the state of law enforcement and to see if we can collectively come to some common ground.  Iím hoping that by reaching out to our various law enforcement family members, we can hopefully come up with one agenda, or at least common grounds to bring forward so that we can come up with a concentrated effort instead of the current helter-skelter individual efforts that exists today.  Remember, divided, we are easily conquered.  Together we are invincible.  All the initiatives that I announced today will go nowhere unless you, the membership, get involved.  When you receive the phone call asking for help, this will be your opportunity to play an integral role in developing these initiatives that will forge our future in the upcoming years. 

I am looking forward to IACP acting as a catalyst of change to develop a true exchange of ideas and initiatives as we move into this new millennium.

Finally, I see my friend Craig Floyd sitting in front of me, Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Memorial.  This year, Craig and the Executive Board of the Law Enforcement Memorial announced that they would like to build a national police museum; a place that would duplicate baseballís Cooperstown, Canton, Ohioís Football Hall of Fame, and of course, the beautiful Hockey Hall of Fame here in Toronto.  Itís hard to believe that our profession does not have its own hall of fame, a place to remember those who have passed the torch to each and every one of us.

On September 11th, our brother and sister police officers ran into the World Trade Center in an effort to save people they did not know because thatís what we do.  Sixty-five, with no regard for their own personal safety, gave up their lives for strangers.  To me, folks, thatís the definition of a hero.  Not someone who throws a baseball, a football, or shoots a puck into a goal.  We should have our own hall of fame, a place where young people throughout this world can come and see what real heroes are.  Letís build our police hall of fame.  Letís build it now.

Good night and God bless.