I attended the Louisiana Municipal Association Conference in Baton Rouge last week, and found the experience enlightening. I had earlier attended the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police. As with any profession, one can find a professional organization made up of peers, experts, novices, and retirees, and attending those conferences and gatherings will enhance your knowledge. Admitting that I don’t know everything about what I do, nor have experience in every conceivable scenario, I feel it is my duty and obligation to take every opportunity to glean from others, gain from their experience, and yes, be open to new concepts, new methods and ideas. Attending such conferences can also serve as a valuable networking tool, and occasionally result in dividends and benefits that would not normally come knocking on your door.
At both gatherings, I was able to network with other Chiefs, Mayors, and council members, as well as state officials and experts. I visited dozens of exhibits, talked to many vendors, and brought home a stack of material. But, more than the casual meetings, I found that when I spoke about our wonderful community, the needs of our people, and the essential upgrades to our police department, I was met with interested listeners, and several people willing to assist me in attaining some of those upgrades. My wife has taught me that a donation you don’t receive is the one you didn’t ask for; so, I am not too proud to ask!
Guess you could say that a common theme at both conferences was the emphasis on working together, not just getting along for the sake of peace, but to actually work together to tackle issues, and that means setting aside personal biases and prejudices, listening with respect to the voices of others, and presenting to the community that elected you a body of elected officials that really are able to work together for the common good.
As in any venture you set out for, any goal you set, or any trial you may be going through, we were not met to do it alone. We really are in the same boat. Whether it is a mayor, an alderman or a police chief, the key to moving the boat forward is that all rows in unison and in the same direction, understanding that each must maintain a level of independence. But, for the sake of our community, the families we serve and the children under our care, we must have as our number one priority – working together, asking for help when we need it, and respecting everyone in the boat.