Todd Foreman, ISRI’s director of law enforcement outreach, and Joel Litman, president and co-owner of Texas Recycling Inc. were in Dallas for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 2022 Annual Conference and Exposition from Oct. 15-18, 2022. Every year the event attracts more than 16,000 public safety professionals, from both the U.S. and other countries, who come to learn new techniques, advance their knowledge and careers, and equip their department for ongoing growth and success.
Representing ISRI and recyclers, Foreman and Litman were among the 600 exhibitors hosting a booth at the conference. The ISRI booth was nestled alongside an array of law enforcement related exhibitors including booths advertising uniforms, body armor, SWAT vehicles, and helicopters.
“It was quite an eyeopener,” Litman says. “It was a perfect arena for ISRI to be there and to get exposure to law enforcement professionals from the federal, state, and local levels.”
Attending the IACP conference was a natural choice for Foreman and Litman as it gave law enforcement a view into the recycled materials industry and vice versa. “It’s an opportunity to make a lot of new contacts,” Foreman says. “You’re speaking with people who are, for the most part, the decision makers for the police departments, so that’s really important.”
Some of the most interesting conversations Foreman had at IACP concerned metals theft prevention, particularly of catalytic converters. Catalytic converters contain valuable metals that are harvested from the device and sold for reprocessing. While there are legal catalytic converter sales, there are also a growing number of illegitimate activities.
When discussing metals theft issues, he found it helpful to have Litman by his side to provide the viewpoint of a recycled materials expert. “When [members of law enforcement] would stop by and talk to Joel, they got to see someone [from the recycled materials industry] who is working to help solve the problem alongside law enforcement. We’re being proactive in our work,” Foreman says.
Once Litman introduced himself as a recycler to law enforcement attendees, he found they were eager to hear about his work and experience in combatting metals theft. “People might have a certain perception of our work and who we are,” he says. “But conferences like IACP are a chance to talk with law enforcement face to face, answer questions, tell them about your process, and what you do to prevent theft. Attending these conferences gives credibility to our industry and shows law enforcement that we can be their partner and help them to reduce thefts and prevent these crimes from occurring.”
With Foreman’s background as a police chief and Litman’s experience in the recycled materials industry they were a true dynamic duo at the event. “When attendees talked to Todd and he shared his experience as a police chief that brought down a lot of initial barriers,” Litman recalls. “He was able to talk shop with them. When he introduced me as a recycler, I could explain our processes and checks and balances.”
When attendees walked by ISRI’s booth, Foreman and Litman shared information about the opportunities ISRI provides for law enforcement. “ISRI provides free training on the state laws related to metals theft and the recycled materials industry, tools for law enforcement to use to stop these thefts, and information about marking programs for catalytic converters,” Foreman explains. “We also work with recyclers to conduct facility tours for law enforcement, everyone is happy to open their doors and educate members of law enforcement about their work and the industry.”
Litman felt the conference was a great venue to talk to members of law enforcement about material theft. He found that attendees were eager to hear about the services and resources ISRI provides to help combat this rampant problem. “Police departments around the country work on this issue,” he says. “So, they were very receptive to meeting with us and hearing about what ISRI members could do to help.”
Foreman didn’t stop after Dallas. Throughout fall 2022 he’s been traveling across the U.S. to attend law enforcement conferences and meet with police departments. After IACP he traveled to Florida for a property crimes conference National Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail and the Florida Law Enforcement Property Recovery Unit Conference.
On Dec. 19, he will head to North Carolina to speak with the High Point Police Department about metals theft and prevention. He’s working to schedule meetings with members of law enforcement in Southampton, Va., and Williamsburg, Va. During the next month he is providing virtual training on ScrapTheftAlert.com to the Boise Police Department, Idaho, Cicero Police Department, Illinois, and Daytona Beach Police Department, Florida.
As Foreman works to provide law enforcement with the best information and education about metals theft prevention and the recycled materials industry, he hopes to have local ISRI members by his side at these events and meetings. “It really helped to have Joel with me at IACP,” he says. “Law enforcement had the opportunity to talk to someone in the business who is actively working to solve the problem. Having a [local ISRI member] with me at these conferences to represent the industry would be great.”
Litman urges his fellow recyclers reach out to Foreman if they’re interested in participating at a local conference. “These conferences provide an opportunity for the recycled materials industry to show how we partner with law enforcement to prevent these crimes from occurring,” he says.
Though it’s important to show up and be present during these conferences, Litman found that it was a generally relaxed environment to interact with members of law enforcement. While some officials walked the exhibit floor in their uniforms, many others were in plain clothes, which made it easier to connect with them.
“You would have no idea that these people were police chiefs,” Litman says. “It was a casual setting, like our own ISRI trade show. It’s a comfortable environment to sit and talk to folks. There’s no downside to participate in these conferences, it’s invaluable to what you’re going to receive by forming relationships with law enforcement.”
Photos Courtesy of Joel Litman.