Military and Police

OpsLens’ Own Teresa Kondek Pals with Shaq and President Trump at Annual IACP Conference in Orlando

OpsLens Contributor Teresa Kondek measures up against Shaq while also sharing the lens with President Donald Trump at the 125th annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference and exposition held in Orlando, Florida throughout the weekend of October 6-9. Teresa, a police widow stemming from the line-of-duty death of her husband, Tarpon Springs, Florida police Officer Charles Kondek, stood in the shadow of Shaquille O’Neal, a former NBA-phenom turned law enforcement officer.

OpsLens Contributor Teresa Kondek and former basketball phenom-turned Reserve Police Officer Shaquille O’Neal at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference being held in Orlando, Florida through October 6-9. (Credit: Teresa Kondek)

To suit his skyscraper size, after he decided to take a row in the law enforcement profession in Florida as well as Georgia, Shaq’s police cruisers were modified to house his 7′-01″ height and all the police accoutrements which  quickly compete for space.

The IACP events held annually all over the United States convene law enforcement executives and police minds to share innovations, the latest technology and gadgetry to get the job done, as well as listen to guest speakers exposing real-life experiences belying evolutionary methodologies for 21st century policing throughout the world. As Operation Blue Shield encapsulated IACP’s purpose and participation: “This week is focused on continuing to shape the law enforcement profession. Over 15,000 Chiefs of Police from across the country convene in Orlando, FL. Providing new strategies, techniques, and resources.” Add to that the police administrators from around the globe, and you have a thoroughly diverse potpourri of police.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings (bottom row, fourth from left) and staff pose with IACP attendees from the Royal Bahamian Police Force. (Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

I’ve never been to an IACP event so I envy Teresa for having the experience.

At the Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) table at the IACP, Teresa represents the group of police widows and loved ones who stand up for the fallen. The C.O.P.S. website distinguishes itself via the following statement: “Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss. C.O.P.S. provides resources to help them rebuild shattered lives. There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.” That exemplifies the already galvanized credo that being a member of the blue family extends far and wide. Pillaring each other when the worst-case scenario evolves evinces the convictions cop families harbor for one another, testament to holding the thin blue line.

Teresa Kondek representing Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) at the 125th annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference being held through Oct. 6-9 in Orlando, Florida. (Credit: Teresa Kondek)

Dress Uniform Day is slated for today, October 8, and will exhibit all law enforcement officers in their best-dressed Class-A attire. That goes in kind with the appearance of President Trump who is scheduled to honor several police officers for courageous, heroic deeds performed in the line of duty (footage and accolades in video below).

Hosted by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orlando Police Department in Orlando, Florida, the IACP conference being held at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) wraps up on October 9. As one may suspect in a metropolis county/city which entertains millions of Disney World tourists aided by 62,000 theme-park employees, traffic snarls are an expected hiccup. Nevertheless, the OCSO and OPD forces combine approximately 3,100 law enforcers to help motorists navigate the busy surface streets and thoroughfares leading to numerous attractions and area hotels.

Notably adding to the traffic this particular day is the appearance of President Donald Trump at the IACP venue. Presidential visits ordinarily virtually shut-down cities. But since it is the land of Mickey Mouse catering to children of all ages, the show must go on.

Interestingly, according to Orlando’s WESH, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be aboard Air Force One and will accompany President Trump at the IACP conference. It would be noteworthy to gauge the moods of both, since tensions between them has been reportedly strained by allegations and insinuations that Mr. Rosenstein may have once declared he wanted to secretly record President Trump and the purported chaotic retinue within the White House. Is this a proverbial case of keeping one’s enemies closer? We shall see how it plays out.

In his speech, President Trump spoke of unwavering support for our nation’s law enforcement community as well as transnational alliances with crime-fighting forces of other countries. Referring to the opioid crisis, he announced “the most federal funding in history to give [law enforcement] the tools and resources that you need to hunt down the traffickers.” President Trump dogged MS-13 while raising up ICE agents. He also praised the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh while eye-poking the Democratic Party for displaying unbecoming conduct. My favorite applicable and deserving burn pointed out by the commander-in-chief was directed at local elected leaders: “We also strongly oppose efforts from politicians to shackle local police departments and prevent them from cooperating with their federal partners so let’s see whether or not Chicago, as an example, locally accepts help. They need it! We’ll straighten it out fast.”

Among the many tributes given to the law enforcement community by President Trump, making “a lot of strides” regarding school safety resources was emphasized. IACP “Police Officer of the Year” awards were given to four law enforcement officers for courage-under-fire feats.

President Trump’s IACP speech in its entirety included accolades to a Doral, Florida policeman, a colleague of Shaquille O’Neal:

Overall, the support extended our nation’s police warriors was a dose not often provided by many on the left, but that is fine. Cops do not seek glory from politicians. They derive duty fulfillment by tacitly knowing the greater good they deliver to anyone who beckons help. As President Trump closed out his speech, the words he expressed for the four police awardees apply to each and every individual who pinned a badge: “We see the unmatched strength, character and courage of our amazing heroes in blue. Every day our police officers race into darkened alleys and deserted streets and onto doorsteps of the most hardened criminals. People you don’t want to be dealing with. And you deal with them well. Incredible. They see the worst of humanity and they respond with the best of the American spirit.

“America’s police officers have earned the everlasting gratitude of our nation. In moments of danger and despair, you are the reason we never lose hope because there are men and women in uniform who face down evil and stand for all that’s good and just and decent and right. No matter what threat you face, you never give in, you never back down. You are people of tremendous courage and strength. We appreciate it.

“Nothing can break your spirit or bend your will…I’ve seen it over many years, because you are the proud men and women of law enforcement. We thank you. We salute you. We honor you, and we promise you that we will always have…your…back. Now and forever, we will have your back.”

That is punctuation for the warriors in police uniforms. And for Aleena Kondek, Teresa and Charles Kondek’s daughter who attended the IACP conference at the risk of missing college studies, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R)saw to it that she be excused:

Posted by Florida Police Officers and Sheriff Deputies on Monday, October 8, 2018

Lord knows Aleena’s dad wouldn’t mind just one bit.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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