What do you do when you’re the conference coordinator for the host city and the conference is over? Not a damn thing…if you can get away with it.
After three years of planning and ten days of madness, the 14th Annual Conference was over. Having not had a day off from the first of April through the 10th of May, I was ready for a break. I took 30 days vacation and looked forward to doing absolutely nothing for the next month. Wrong.
Months of neglecting my little spread south of San Antonio demanded that I get the tractor out, plow and cut the place back to shape and then get married there…again. To the same woman no less! She deserved it. She quit her job just to work full-time on the conference with me; without her, I would have been lost. Even worse, the hospitality room would have been stocked with peanut butter and jelly and Kool-Aid. With her on the job, the great food never ran out and the beer tub never went dry. I took her for a few days to visit folks in Florida and then I hopped on my Harley and disappeared to destinations unknown. As I write this, I am somewhere in the Ozark Mountains. My chief is looking for me, so don’t tell him where you heard from me.
The theme of plenty seemed to be repeated throughout the conference. Plenty to eat, plenty to drink, plenty to do…and plenty of people showed up to do it all. We even had some unexpected company; my chief came by to address the Opening Ceremonies, and the Secretary of Police for Monterrey, Mexico, dropped in to see what public safety cycling was all about. My Chief said that he had not received any complaints about us in the five days of pre-conference training, which to him meant that were not having enough fun to cause trouble yet. He demanded we change that, so we did. By the time we were through, he was looking for me, but I had slipped out the door for vacation.
He did get a couple of good calls. The Survival Tactics and Riding Skills team was out in the downtown area, about to stop for lunch, when a civilian dropped onto the sidewalk in a seizure. Three bike medics were on him faster than three ducks fighting over the same June-bug. Later, the class spoiled the fun of a bunch of pot-smokers when they rolled unexpectedly into the Alamodome parking lot. A would-be shoplifter discovered that pulling a theft while IPMBA was in town was a fatal mistake, thanks to two Ohio medics and a Canadian police officer. It happens at every conference; IPMBA members saving the day. What a great feeling.
The one crisis that did occur was when our Texas-sized Competition & Barbecue turned into a Texas-sized Downpour. Lesson number one for Scottsdale, Dayton and Baton Rouge: have a rain plan. I didn’t have one, but the Adams Mark Hotel did. They saved the barbecue and moved it into their grand hall where we ate the best, authentic, chuck-wagon barbecue, prepared by our best SAPD cooks, Marvin Cannon and Ruben Ramon. It was so good and plentiful that some went back for seconds, thirds and fourths.
Another benefit to come out of the rain was an unplanned charity auction for The Children’s Shelter of San Antonio. Throughout the conference, we had been gathering donations and support for them. Three officers from the United Kingdom donated a shirt and two Bobbie helmets to be auctioned for charity auction. Together, the three items netted over $600.00 for the shelter. When all was totaled a few days ago, IPMBA had raised $3,000 for the shelter’s operating fund. Talk about IPMBA members saving the day…again.
As I close this article from an undisclosed library in the Ozarks, (I didn’t know ‘hillbillies’ had libraries!) I must express my thanks to a few key players. My wife Marianne, for saving the hospitality room, and the Volunteers in Policing (VIPs) for keeping it stocked, along with the all the other magnificent jobs the VIPs did. I thought all VIP’s did was greet people and pass out cookies. Beth Hish and her staff of volunteers saved me time and time again. Those incredible people with their incredible talent made an incredible difference in the success of the conference.
The magnificent team of Deputy Dave and Sgt. Steph Padula; a husband and wife crime fighting team that held the fort (Command Center) safe, running it like a well oiled machine while I addressed a few thousand things elsewhere. Thanks go to Chief Paul Glowacki of St. Mary’s University Police for hosting several of our international members; and to Officer Keith Kurtz of SAPD, the mountain of a man who moved mountains day in and day out whenever it was needed, every day, whether he was on duty or not. Thanks to my commander, Lt. Roy Waldhelm, for letting me do anything I wanted and making sure I had plenty of staff to do it. Thanks to Officer Steve Bazany (AKA Capt. Insane-O) for taking over my job and pulling triple duty to make sure all the details of the conference were attended to.
Last but not least, thanks to all the members who were there. It’s hell when you throw a party and no one comes, but y'all showed up and made the conference a huge success.
Was all the work worth it? Damn right it was. You future host coordinators should just keep telling yourself that. I will see you all down the road in the conferences to come. This time, I will sit back with a brew and watch it all happen.
Semi-retired Bike Officer
San Antonio Police Department
IPMBA. Doing it better, doing it first.