The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, based in Olympia, Washington, is a 501(c) 6 non-profit association that is committed to supporting law enforcement officers through the legislative process and by providing services for the maximum benefit of the membership and organization. The Council’s “Leadership and Strength through Unity” objectives are:
To unite members of law enforcement organizations into one coordinated and representative body.
To formulate and promote legislative programs for enactment.
To represent or cause to be represented all members before state legislative bodies and committees.
To conduct an educational program designed to acquaint members with the values, needs, and problems of prospective legislation.
To cooperate with other organizations for legislative needs.
To foster and encourage a higher degree of skill and efficiency, the cultivation of friendship and fellowship among members.
For more than 55 years, the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs has been committed to supporting those who have dedicated their careers to protect and serve our communities as law enforcement officers by providing legislative representation, insurance products, and professional support.
Throughout the years, WACOPS has proven itself to be the statewide law enforcement advocacy group representing over 4,300 individual officers and approximately 110 different police guilds and associations.
WACOPS has been involved in hundreds of legislative efforts to defeat bills that would take away Law Enforcement Officer and Fire Fighter Plan 2 (LEOFF 2) pension benefits and to support bills that would improve pension benefits for law enforcement officers in the State of Washington. Along with the pension legislation, there are numerous other issues that WACOPS monitors throughout each legislative session to include labor, collective bargaining, arbitration, workplace changes, criminal justice issues and funding for law enforcement officer training.
WACOPS works closely with the other law enforcement advocacy groups to include the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs (COMPAS) as well as the Washington State Patrol. Since the fire fighters share the pension system, WACOPS partners with the Washington Council of Fire Fighters on LEOFF legislative issues.
Besides legislative advocacy, WACOPS provides a significant range of other services to its members:
WACOPS solely owns a for-profit insurance company that provides long-term disability benefits. Public Safety Employees Insurance, Inc. (PSEI) partners with Seattle Business Insurance to provide its members with coverage should the unfortunate event happen that prevents an officer from working.
WACOPS’ Labor Defense Group was formed in 2010 to provide contract negotiations to guilds with under 45 members. By participating in this program, the guilds are also eligible to join Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) for critical incident criminal and civil coverage.
WACOPS provides highly sought after law enforcement-specific training and educational opportunities in Washington State to enable members to attend trainings close to home. Examples of nationally recognized subject matter experts include training presentations from Force Science, Calibre Press and Lt Dave Grossman on tactical, psychological and emotional readiness, as well as labor attorneys Will Aitchison and Jeff Julius.
A 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, WACOPS is governed by an eleven member Executive Board, consisting of its officers and board members representing eight geographical regions of the state. The Executive Director reports to the board of directors, and has three direct reports: a full-time lobbyist, a communications director and an office manager.
WACOPS maintains a strong balance sheet and its annual budget hovers around $660,000. While its financial position is stable, the organization strives to generate additional non-membership revenue to be able to offer greater services to its members.
The Position and Priorities
The successful candidate will lead an association with an excellent reputation in the state legislature and governor’s office with a strong track record of improving benefits for law enforcement professionals for the past 55 years.
However, WACOPS faces challenges today that are similar to challenges faced by many membership associations; for example, garnering the attention and involvement of its members, especially younger members who communicate predominantly via social media, and especially when members’ have such a broad range of interest choices. In addition, WACOPS typically communicates primarily with its member guilds, causing a gap in communication with individual guild members who are vital to the long term success of WACOPS’ long term plans.
The Executive Director (ED) will focus on the following strategic priorities for the first 18-24 months of his/her tenure:
Breakthrough communications: Partner with local police guilds to develop and implement a strategy to be able to effectively reach individual members and explain the benefits of WACOPS involvement to individual members across the state.
Revitalize WACOPS’ value proposition: Gather membership input and perspective on current service offerings and legislative agenda, and perform analysis to identify areas for potential changes in services and/or focus provided. Convey revitalized value proposition to membership through a wide variety of communication channels, including in-person meetings across state, social media, print communications and other creative strategies.
Focused legislative advocacy: Build on WACOPS’ long track record of success by utilizing data gleaned from members to establish future legislative goals, while simultaneously supporting law enforcement interests in response to external pressures. Advocate for better working conditions for law enforcement officers. Balance historical focus areas of employee benefits such as disability coverage and retirement plans with any new/additional issues and potential benefits programs identified by the membership.
Enhance training opportunities: Provide topics based on member input to supplement existing training agenda. Find ways to reach greater numbers of members by making trainings more accessible, to grow participation, and tangibly demonstrate WACOPS’ strong value proposition as an outcome.
Develop future leadership and improve governance and management systems: Through the outreach efforts noted above, identify potential future leaders and engage them in WACOPS’ legislative advocacy and training efforts, thereby grooming the next generation of WACOPS board members. Streamline the board committee structure and facilitate efficient meeting agendas to utilize members’ time as efficiently as possible.
Experience, Skills and Attributes
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the ED provides leadership for the organization, and is responsible for the overall management, financial performance, accountability, and administration to ensure the organization achieves its goals, according to board approved policies and procedures. While legislative success is dependent upon the advocacy efforts of WACOPS’ board and membership, a great deal of responsibility for the legislative program falls on the ED and the staff s/he manages.
The ideal candidate will have excellent people and communication skills in order to develop, build and maintain strong relationships with members, legislators and other key stakeholders who have widely divergent opinions. The ED should have proven nonprofit management skills, and be a collaborative team builder who will empower and support the staff and board, utilizing their collective skills and experience.
Preferred qualifications include:
• A Bachelor’s degree in public, non-profit, or business management, political science or similar field. Five years progressively responsible experience in nonprofit management and leadership. Educational qualifications may be waived depending on work history.
• Demonstrated leadership skills in empowering staff and board to play strong roles to achieve organizational goals. Demonstrated team-building skills, including facilitation of groups, meetings and processes among stakeholders with widely diverse viewpoints that are expressed passionately.
• A track record of legislative advocacy, including some experience of success, and successful relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle. Experience writing testimony and assisting members to do so.
• Excellent written, oral and social media communication skills at all levels, with staff, board, and community stakeholders. An engaging personality and communication style and a proven willingness to initiate open and collegial communications with diverse law enforcement professionals.
• Experience working with a board and staff to develop and successfully implement a mission-driven strategic plan and annual operating plans which are monitored for progress according to plan.
• Experience in association management or management in a related field. Experience with the culture of law enforcement is preferred but not required.
• Experience managing a budget and staff of a similar or greater size, including monitoring progress toward goals with necessary accountability systems.
• Experience in public speaking with an engaging speaking style.
• Fundraising experience with donors and/or fundraising strategies relevant for WACOPS.
• Knowledge of non-profit compliance, management and human resources best practices, laws and regulations.
Work is performed typically in an office environment and a variety of settings among diverse stakeholders and audiences. A considerable amount of time will be spent in meetings, at a computer screen for extended periods, and speaking in public. Frequent use of phones and e-mail will be required to communicate with stakeholders. Frequently works outside normal working hours and will drive due to work performed with donors and other stakeholders in the community. Occasional travel out of town and out of state will be required.
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