Prepared Remarks
Chief Steven Casstevens
Installation as President
International Association of Chiefs of Police
October 29, 2019
Chicago, Illinois

Good evening – and thank you again.      

In 1892, Omaha, Nebraska police chief Webber Seavey invited 385 police chiefs from around the country to meet and discuss forming a national police organization for the purpose of bringing proficiency, pride, consistency, and dignity to this righteous calling we know as professional policing.

In May of 1893, not far from this location here in Chicago, 51 police chiefs met to discuss a variety of topics in policing. At the end of that meeting, they elected Webber Seavey to be the first President of the new “National Union of Chiefs of Police of the United States and Canada.”  Now, even as an acronym, NUCPUSC, is quite a mouthful.

So, as the group continued to meet each year, and the number of members continued to increase; at their 9thconvention, in 1902, the name was officially changed to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 

[That’s] the noble gathering I see here before me.  So permit me a brief moment of both pride and humility, to say that it is truly my honor and privilege to be standing here 117 years later, assuming the presidency of the IACP.   

I was born July 8th, 1958 and grew up in the small town of Triumph, Illinois.  And I can assure you, there are far more people in this room tonight than the population of Triumph ever had.  Though I grew up in farm country, I always wanted to be a cop.  However, I never dreamed that one day, after 42 years in the profession, that career would put me here tonight, as President of the largest organization of law enforcement professionals in the world.

As we all know during these type of events, there are quite a number of people who need to be acknowledged  - in one way or another. People who helped me get here.  I am, again, privileged and grateful to stand at this podium.   But let me take this opportunity to emphasize that this evening is not about me.  It took the efforts of family, friends, colleagues, and mentors to achieve this position; but more importantly ----- it is now my responsibility to faithfully and boldly move this association forward … for you and with you.    

While I cannot possibly thank everyone – I’m going to put a good dent in the list.

First, on behalf of the IACP, the staff, and all of the attendees, my tremendous thanks to Superintendent Eddie Johnson and all the members of the Chicago Police Department for the tremendous effort they have put in to make this conference a success.  For everything you see at this conference: uniformed officers, security, and escorts; there are a thousand things that went on behind the curtain to ensure we are safe in our ability to move about and secure in our opportunities to learn and grow.  Thank you Superintendent Johnson. 

To my Village Manager, and friend, Dane Bragg, I offer my deepest gratitude for your foresight, your leadership, your insight and intelligence, and for your unwavering support over the past 6 ½ years.  You’ve made it possible for Buffalo Grove to grow and thrive by being part of an extraordinary team, and it was a great moment of pride to have you swear me into this office tonight. As you may recall, I’ve reminded you countless times over the past 6 years; this is the year you’ll want to fire me.

I’d like to thank and recognize additional members of our team, please join me in appreciation for  the following elected officials from Buffalo Grove who are here tonight – please stand and be recognized, and ladies and gentlemen, please hold your applause until all members are standing.

Village President Beverly Sussman

Trustee Les Ottenheimer

Trustee Dave Weidenfeld

Trustee Andy Stein

Thank you for your support.

Also from the Village of Buffalo Grove here tonight, again, please hold your applause for a moment:

Fire Chief Mike Baker

HR Director Art Malinowski

Village Clerk Jan Sirabian

Public Works Director Mike Reynolds

Deputy Village Manager Chris Stilling

Deputy Village Manager Jenny Maltas

And, coming live and direct to you from the Buffalo Grove Police Department…  Everyone in this room knows that I could not do what I do, without a remarkable team of professionals.  Allow me to extend my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to  my right and left hands at the police department – Deputy Chief Mike Szos and Deputy Chief Scott Eisenmenger along with numerous other members of the police department. Everyone from BGPD, please stand and accept my appreciation for all that you do.

Next, I’m so pleased to recognize the members of my family who made considerable effort to be here tonight.    Again, please hold your applause for just a moment:

My parents Bob and Irma Casstevens, who likely wondered, in those early years, “Is he ever going to make something of himself?”

My brother Mike Casstevens, thanks for all the torment in my youth.

My sister Joann Meisel, thank you for NOT tormenting me in my youth.  

My daughter Stephanie and her wife Angie (who by the way is a police officer in Northbrook)

My son Grant and his wife Ashley, who gave us a great excuse to travel to Hawaii last year for their wedding

I would like to recognize my wife Petey Casstevens. Many of you have known her for some time, including from her former capacity as the IACP Foundation Director.  I thank you for your unwavering support, not just over these past few years, but always. You’ve made your own sacrifices so that I can be here today. I raise a toast to you.

How about I take you to Dublin in December?

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank and acknowledge all of the members here from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police for their support of me when I announced my campaign in Orlando in 2014.  The Illinois Chiefs are one of the premier state associations in this nation and the IACP has benefited from your expertise and professionalism, not only through SACOP, but by virtue of having an IACP President from Illinois every decade since the 1940s.    

Next, it is indeed my privilege to recognize all of the past presidents of the IACP, as well as those past “at-large” vice presidents. You have helped to guide this incredible organization which has served our profession for 127 years. Thank you, and your families, for the commitment that you made during your years of service on the Board. Please stand and be recognized.

I’d like to thank IACP Executive Director and CEO Vince Talucci, Deputy Director Terry Cunningham, and all of the IACP staff members who have put so much effort into planning and organizing this conference. To all the IACP staff sitting in back, enjoying your free wine, and contemplating Gene’s “list of words.”  Thank you all!

Lastly, I would like to recognize outgoing President Paul Cell for his service over this past year. And for those of you who know him, he is definitely OUTGOING!!!)  It’s a challenge to be following Paul into the position of President and I only hope that I can continue to serve the organization at the same level that he has. His passion, professionalism, intelligence, responsiveness, and simply his personality have set a new bar for the engagement and clear articulation of the meaning of professional policing. Please join me in thanking Paul for his service and contributions. 

When I campaigned for Vice President five years ago, a lot of people asked me what my presidential priorities would be. I had watched over 20 past presidents and listened to their priorities and I understood that there was no way that I could predict the tapestry of issues that our profession would be facing today.

Now that I’m standing before you, I’d like to share my priorities.


I served on the IACP’s Highway Safety Committee for over a dozen years. I’ve always been proud of the dedication and expertise on that Committee and have enjoyed the collective passion of its members in looking at ways to increase highway safety and save lives.

In the U.S. alone, we lose over 40,000 people in fatal traffic crashes every year. Staggering.   Imagine if there were a virus or a transportation defect recall, that claimed 40,000 lives a year.   The nation would stand in horror until the issue was resolved, yet we’ve become so numb to these fatalities, as well as the thousands harmed or catastrophically injured in predictable and preventable traffic crashes.  

While those numbers are both astounding and unacceptable, as a profession, we’ve done an excellent job in addressing those issues though education, enforcement and engineering.  

But, there are many other countries that are experiencing even more disturbing numbers of deaths on their roadways. IACP is in a unique position to assist police agencies in other countries.  

In 2009, Brazil was listed as 8th in road deaths by country by the World Health Organization. Brazil had over 42,000 traffic deaths, with a population of over 100 million less than the U.S.

Last year I travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil to assess a project that IACP had started in 2017, in partnership with our friends with the Sao Paulo Police.  The project, funded at nearly ¾ of a million dollars by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, focused on speeding, reckless operation of motorcycles and impaired driving.

The IACP provided technical assistance and operational recommendations to enhance deterrence and traffic safety awareness. IACP’s work has resulted in education and enforcement tactics for motorcycle violations, expanded use of preliminary breath testing equipment and expansion of speed enforcement. 

These efforts have yielded an 84% increase in efficiency of screening and detection of impaired drivers and – here’s the takeaway - a total reduction of 1,100 traffic fatalities from the combined efforts of enforcement, engineering and public education. 

The IACP has incredible expertise in these operational and technical spheres and it is our obligation to share these tools and innovations with other member countries.

One of my key goals is to make global road safety a priority and expand our highway safety efforts to other countries. We have recently been awarded another phase of this grant, totaling nearly $16 million over 5 years, which will allow the IACP to partner with 14 additional cities in 7 countries.  This truly exemplifies the “I” in IACP and goes far into our mission to advance policing through advocacy, research, outreach, and education to provide for safer communities worldwide.


In the U.S., we continue to experience the threat of active shooters. As a profession, we have done an excellent job in training our officers as well as our communities in police response to these types of incidents. However, I have learned in my travels outside of the U.S. over the past several years that “active shooter” is not the typical attack in other countries. Law enforcement agencies in the U.K. and other countries find themselves responding to a different type of threat – attacks with explosives, knives, hatchets and motor vehicles.

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to London where the IACP Board was briefed by the Counterterrorism Unit regarding the terrorist attacks over the past 2 years. These incidents, which many of you remember, included knife attacks and terrorists using cars and trucks to run down innocent bystanders.

In March of 2017, an attacker drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before later crashing into a fence at Parliament. He then stabbed and killed a police officer before being shot and killed. Six dead – 40 wounded.

Three months later, 3 attackers in a van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge. The attackers then exited the vehicle and began stabbing people in pubs and restaurants before being shot and killed by police. Eleven killed – 48 injured.

Two weeks later an attacker drove a van into pedestrians near Finsbury Park Mosque. Eleven injured – one died.

Two months later a man was arrested outside of Buckingham Palace. When officers challenged him, he reached for a sword inside his car.

And one month later a homemade bomb was detonated on a tube train, injuring 22 people.

What was evident from this briefing was that terrorism shows up in many ways and we must be prepared for all possibilities.  Over recent years, terrorists have changed their methods of attack as well as their targets. There are great lessons to be learned from our partners in the U.K and elsewhere, and these lessons can be beneficial to us all.

President Cell recently assembled a Targeted Violence Task Force in the wake of recent mass shootings. This task force is looking into the factors that drive persons to commit acts of violence and what steps can be taken to prevent them.  I highly commend President Cell for his work in establishing this group of experts.

In concert with this group looking at prevention, I plan to assemble a task force on Police Response to Active Threats. This group will be the next stage if you will, following on the success of the Targeted Violence Task Force. The Active Threat Task Force will conduct research on the types of attacks I described earlier, and determine best practices for police response to those types of threats.  My plan is to produce a comprehensive report that will assist our member agencies around the world in responding to these terrorist acts.

One aspect that is apparent in police response to any attack is the prior training of the responding officers and their ability to make critical decisions in a crisis situation. One of the priorities of this task force will be to document the importance of police training and the need for additional federal funding in this area. I look forward to assembling this group of experts.


Every year, like many of you, I attend the National Police Week ceremonies in Washington DC and am deeply distressed by the number of names added to the wall annually. Every one of those officers who died left behind a family and an agency in mourning.  Every one of those deaths is tragic and heartbreaking.  

However, several years ago I noticed a disturbing trend – we were losing more officers to suicide than those killed in the line of duty. I was both shocked and saddened.   And maybe more importantly, I was moved to action.

Why is this happening? Year to date we have lost ­­­­­­­_____officers in the line of duty, and we have lost _____ officers to suicide. This is an intensely critical issue for our profession, not just domestically, but worldwide.

In a report from Paris in August of this year, the headline read “French Police Suicide Rate Climbs.”  Nearly 70 police officers in France have died by suicide in the first 8 months of 2019. The suicide rate for police officers in France is 36% higher than the general population.

In Italy, 37 officers died by suicide in the first 8 months of 2019.

The Labour Party in the UK recently called for a review into police welfare, reporting that 336 officers have died by suicide in the last 18 years, with 3 of the last 4 years being the highest on record.   

We live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs to you to sign your cast. If you tell people you’re suffering from depression, they run the other way. Sadly, we can accept any body part being injured, except the brain. It’s not a weakness to ask for help….it’s courage!

As leaders in our profession, this is a disturbing trend that we need to address head on, examine, treat, and reverse. EMPHASIS!!! We need make it okay for our officers to ask for help.  

I am proud to say that the IACP recently obtained a $1 million grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, to specifically address this issue. Working in partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, we have already assembled a consortium of nearly 40 subject matter experts from a variety of fields, to be led by BJA. We met here in Chicago and began a groundbreaking national conversation on law enforcement suicide. Working with this team of experts, we will help you, as police leaders, reverse this trend and save officers’ lives. I want the IACP to own this topic for our profession!

While there will be myriad issues throughout the coming year that the IACP leadership will tackle for our profession, these are my three priorities. I look forward to working closely with many of you on these important topics.

Five years ago when I announced my campaign, I spoke to the membership about my four decades in law enforcement and my passion and commitment to the IACP.

At the end of that speech, I left you with the following quote from Winston Churchill, which I believe still applies today.

He said “To every man there comes that special moment when he will be figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do something special. What a tragedy it would be if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for that work, which could have been his finest hour.”

I am honored to serve as your president and I hope that you find me both prepared and qualified to lead what I believe is the finest law enforcement organization in the world.

Thank you.