A Future for Local Community Policing Conference?
I.C.A.R.E. relies on private funding, needs more
The Austin Police Department's Office of Community Liaison hosted its second annual I.C.A.R.E. Community Conference in early August. The four-day event, now in its second year, offers sessions on mental health first aid, response to resistance training, and other community policing issues. Organizers hope to bring I.C.A.R.E. back next year, but, as usual with events like it, that will come down to funding. It costs $5,000 to $6,000 to put the conference on, and many of the presenters are law enforcement officials volunteering their time. But the OCL budget doesn't have funds marked specifically for this kind of activity; the majority of I.C.A.R.E. funding comes from donations to its nonprofit, the Austin Police Community Liaison Corporation.
"People seem to love [I.C.A.R.E.]," said OCL manager Mike Sheffield. "Especially the portion where we had mental health training for the first day. A lot of folks enjoyed that. They were very interested and felt like they got something out of that. And then, of course, the Saturday where they're out there at the academy seeing through officers' eyes the situations officers face." Sheffield said 100 people attended parts of the four-day session this year. He hopes to get that number up to 200 should I.C.A.R.E. move forward. Community members can donate to help keep the conference going at www.oclcorp.org/donate.html.