Admittedly, I wasn’t around in the nostalgic, amber-hued light when this all got started. But many times I’ve heard the tale. Every time it serves to remind me why we at Law Officer do what we do. I’ll recap.
Law Officer began conspicuously. There were at least five competing magazines in the law enforcement market, as well as dozens of websites. Why start another?
Because an important segment of the market was not being served: Our focus would be on the trainers and middle managers, who are the change-agents at most departments. Sure, it would be relevant to chiefs and line officers, but at our core would be the folks in the middle.
“If we create great content, the readers will come to it,” said Jeff Berend, publisher and vice president, Elsevier Public Safety.
The gathered nodded, and soon Jeff was proved right.
Capt. Dale Stockton (Ret.) of the Carlsbad (Calif.) PD took charge as editor and has been a driving force ever since. Dale’s passion is serving the law enforcement community and his leadership is reflected in print and online. He exhibits this through bringing relief to storm-
ravaged areas (Project Inspire 1 and 2) to recognizing the trainer of the year to the new Below 100 initiative.
One of Dale’s favorite mantras is read it, use it. I brought this with me from our sister publication FireRescue, and it’s a concept we take seriously. If an officer can’t immediately put an article to use, it doesn’t belong in the magazine. If a photograph doesn’t tell a story or make a point that an officer can use in the field, we’ll choose another.
Much has changed in five years, especially online. We have created a new and improved website, joined Facebook (www.Facebook.com/lawofficer) and made more than 80,000 friends, created a weekly e-newsletter and created a social network (www.LawOfficerConnect.com). Our goal online is the same as in the magazine: to make officers safer. If you haven’t taken the time to visit our new website, do so. There is something there for everyone.
In five years, the core remains unchanged. Law Officer is, in the end, a product of the network of hardworking people who make it possible each month. Our stable of columnists is the most committed in the business. That most of them work fulltime in addition to their writing is astounding, and I am honored each month to remind them that their columns are late.
Kidding aside, we take the job seriously because we love it. Our production coordinator, Jan Zacharias, has a paper pinned above her desk that says it all: “Our staff operates with the knowledge that if we do this magazine right, it’s quite likely an officer will make it home safely who might not have otherwise.” Dale said that—in the first issue, five years ago.
Law Officer has grown from an idea to a product to a community. This is the final ingredient: you, the reader. Our readers are our writers and photographers and advertisers. This is your magazine, so thank you for your support.