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5 reasons to walk the show floor at IACP

Someone recently challenged me, “Give me five good reasons to walk the show floor at the IACP 2014 Conference.” Good question: Why should attendees in Orlando devote time to walking the vendor expo?

The argument against doing so is it takes time away from education sessions, leadership seminars, and incident debriefs that help attendees be more effective as police leaders. Yes, time is a zero-sum equation. But one way to mitigate the risk of missing something is to buddy up with someone who can read you in on what unfolded at those two or three sessions you skipped. Trust me, it works.

Plus, it gives you time to learn about all the hottest new technologies hitting the market to help police do their jobs. In humor there is truth, so here’s my list in snarky form, followed by some serious truths lurking within.

Top 5 Reasons to Walk the Show Floor
#5. Sitting in a million-dollar helicopter your agency will never in a million years be able to afford.
#4. Having a kid one-third your age dazzle you with geek-speak about crime-data-analysis software.
#3. Obtaining a full year’s supply of anti-stress squeeze balls for you, your family, and several friends.
#2. Being shocked and/or embarrassed that you really don’t know about something you were “sure of.”
#1. Meeting Police1 Editor-in-Chief Doug Wyllie during his annual “Doug Day at the Booth” appearance

Million-Dollar Baby
Let’s start with that category of equipment that you presently think your city council cannot afford, nor would they let you acquire even if they could. We’re talking about helicopters, armored vehicles, mobile command centers, littoral watercraft and all the other “big shiny stuff.”

You may be surprised to learn from those vendors that by combining some creative financing and ROI analysis, you actually may be able to convince your elected officials to consider that big-ticket item. In talking with these vendors, you will get a handle on how they pitch their value proposition at city hall.

Further, you’ll get valuable information need to hopefully change the minds of those who oppose such equipment — the “We don’t want you to have a tank!” crowd.

At the very least, a lot of this stuff is just cool to look at — and I’m pretty sure that’s a scientifically proven fact that we all like cool stuff.

Software Demystified
Yes, a kid one-third your age will make you feel like a total moron. Yes, you’ll leave a booth (or more than one) more confused about the latest software available to law enforcement than you were when you arrived in Orlando.

But here’s the deal: Someone on that floor knows precisely how to explain this stuff to you in a way you — my unique little law enforcement snowflake — can understand.

Someone has precisely the right analogy for you about software-as-a-service, and someone can paint a mental picture for you about all the nuances of predictive analysis, GIS mapping, social media monitoring, and all that other really fun tech stuff (bonus snarkiness!).

Stress-Relief Equipment
If you’re a chief sheriff, or command staff, you’ve had your share of stress, so that big bag full of free squeeze balls will surely be put to good use.

However, walking the expo will help you find real solutions to reduce our biggest worry — officer safety.

Myriad robots and UAVs can help your SWAT team gain critical intelligence — from a stand-off position — on the location of a warrant service. With NIJ .06 compliant body armor getting lighter, the sell to your patrol officers to always vest up is getting easier.

Stop by, talk about improving your officers’ safety, and grab a free pen. A word of caution that your big bag of SWAG — stuffed toys for the kids and blank notebooks for the office — may end up equating to a $25 baggage fee for the flight home. I speak from experience.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Think you’re completely up on cutting-edge advances in thermal imaging, on-officer cameras, tire-deflation devices, training simulators, radios, dispatch equipment? Think you know about the latest in uniforms, outerwear and safety vests?

I hate to break an uncomfortable truth to you, but you’re probably not. You spend your time running a police agency. You don’t have time to have visibility into high-tech gear, and even the so-called “simple stuff” has improved exponentially in the past half-decade.

Explore the floor. It’s fun.

Let’s Talk About Me for a Minute
Every year, I schedule and publicize a half day during which I will be anchored to the carpet of the Police1 booth. This is to solve the problem of having people “swing by to see me” unannounced, when 99 percent of my IACP time is spent elsewhere.

Sure, you get other awesome Police1 employees. But if your primary aim is to talk with me, there’s really only one effective way to do it.

“Doug Day in the Booth” will be on Monday, October 27, from 1130 hours to 1300 hours. Our booth number is 2040.

Come say hello. Tell me about yourself and your department. Let’s collaborate some on helping our officers be safer and more successful on the street, as well as healthier and happier at home.

Doug Wyllie writes police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug was a co-founder of the Policing Matters podcast and a longtime co-host of the program.