The title of this article comes from a March 1997 APCO Bulletin submission from one of my dearest mentors, Gregg Riddle. What APCO means to me has come up numerous times throughout my career and more consistently as I’ve embarked on a journey to advance to APCO’s Executive Committee.
My first indoctrination into APCO was on a midnight shift in 1997 when I was in training. My CTO was having a bad night, handed me the APCO Bulletin and she told me to “read it over there.” Obeying the order of the former drill sergeant, I read it from cover to cover a few times that evening and was amazed at the wealth of information contained inside. As I was preparing to leave at the conclusion of my shift, I tore out the paper mail-in card (some may have to Google this) from the magazine and took it home with me. I filled out the card, mailed it in and a short time later, I had a membership card and my own copy of the magazine.
A thirst for knowledge, training and networking grew as I became a member and started attending meetings. I realized how vast the knowledge was of the members I met and spoke with. That very knowledge helped me advance my agency and my co-workers over the next several years. What I didn’t anticipate was the insurmountable wall from my administration in attending meetings, trainings and conferences. The value far outweighed the challenge and I began to attend things on my own time and my own dime. Eventually, some bosses changed and others may have worn down due to my persistence. I often told them, I certainly don’t know everything, but within one or two phone calls, I can find a knowledgeable APCO member willing to provide some guidance. Those words have rung true for over 20 years.
Each step in my APCO journey provided me with another set of tools and additional knowledge. Chapter committees, national committees, chapter board, executive council, group leader and board of directors. CTO, supervisor, accreditation manager, RPL and CPE. The information gathered over the years has continued to fuel my passion, my drive and my perseverance in this industry.
Over the past several years, I’ve had a number of individuals from around the country ask me to consider running for the APCO Executive Committee. As I broached that subject with my family and my agency executive board, I found myself speaking to what APCO means to me. It means training, legislation, leadership, standards, technology, information, networking, advocacy, outreach and empowerment. We each make of this amazing association what we put into it and I’m all in. Let’s grow the association, grow our members, grow our leaders and positively impact the public safety communications industry for decades to come. Let me leave you with Gregg Riddle’s words as he ended his article in March 1997, “By spreading the word on the value of a membership in APCO International, we can increase our numbers and have an ever-increasing effect in the arena of public safety communications.”
Jason E. Kern, CPE, RPL, ENP, COML is currently the Executive Director of Southeast Emergency Communications in Crystal Lake, IL and a North Central Regional Board of Directors Member with APCO. He has been involved in multiple facets of public safety since 1991 and dedicated over 25 years to the public safety communications industry. With over two decades of active involvement in APCO, he has been honored with Senior Member distinction in addition to Chapter Senior and Chapter Life with Illinois APCO.