Laurinburg officials are hoping that the lessons learned by Police Chief John “Johnny” Evans at a weeklong conference in California will help the police department tackle crime back home.
Evans spent Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 gathered with hundreds of his contemporaries at the 119th International Association of Chiefs of Police conference at the San Diego Convention Center. Evans’ fellow police chiefs from Moore and Robeson counties also attended.
Evans could not be reached for comment.
Laurinburg City Manager Ed Burchins called the $1,600 budgeted for the trip a “good investment.”
Burchins said the continuing education sessions are an important tool for local police. The conference featured speeches by Attorney General Eric Holder as well as law enforcement officials on the cutting edge of the field.
“They learned about the latest in tactics and technology,” Burchins said. “(What was learned) will improve our ability to fight crime here in Laurinburg.”
The conference has been a staple of Evans’ schedule in recent years and that is not likely to change, Burchins said.
“He attends this conference and one at the state level every year.”
A total of about $18,000 is budgeted for all of the Laurinburg Police Department’s training for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
According to Burchins, Laurinburg faces special problems that make conference attendance particularly useful for the chief. For example, one of the conference’s speakers, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly talked about his department’s plans to step up its use of social media to combat gang violence now that more gang members are using Facebook and Twitter to brag about exploits.
“We have big city crime in Laurinburg,” Burchins said. “Some other area municipalities, like Lumberton, have it as well, but conference attendance is really the best way for (Evans) to get up to speed.”
Gang related shootings and violence characterize “big city crime,” Burchins said.
Despite the big city demands, Laurinburg still has the resources of a small municipality which can sometimes mean training is a challenge, the city manager said.
“When (Evans) returns, what he learned is incorporated at the department,” Burchins said.
The police chief association is a nonprofit with more than 20,000 members from 9,000 police agencies across more than 100 countries.