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HISTORY OF INOA
As a Special Agent with the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement assigned to the eastern Iowa area, I had the opportunity to attend the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers' Association's (I.D.E.O.A.) Annual Conference held in Peoria, Illinois during 2001 – 2003. I came back from the 2002 conference in Peoria thinking in my head, "Why don't we have something like this in Iowa? This would be a great way for people from different professions working in the narcotics field to receive training and share information." I was very envious of Illinois' Association due to the fact they had such a large turnout every year for their conference. Time slipped away and I did nothing to start the wheels in motion other than tell some of the people I worked with everyday that we (Iowa) should have a narcotics association in Iowa. After going to the I.D.E.O.A. conference in Peoria again in 2003, I came away from the conference even surer the State of Iowa was in need of putting our own association together.
Soon after returning from the conference in Peoria in April of 2003, I spoke to my supervisor, Assistant Director Brad Thompson and also Director Ken Carter of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement about wanting to start a narcotics association. Both were extremely supportive and thought the idea had a lot of merit. Director Carter provided written information showing where officers had made an attempt in years past to start up an Association but it never got completely off the ground.
Ironically, during D.N.E.'s annual in-service in Des Moines in the late summer of 2003, Bruce Upchurch, Director of the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center at Camp Dodge spoke to the group of Special Agents and Supervisors of D.N.E. He said he had recently been to other states in the midwest and advised there were some states that had narcotics associations which were well established and a couple of states that were just getting established. Director Upchurch said since his branch of M.C.T.C. was located in the state of Iowa, he was confident he would be able to provide assistance in getting a narcotics association off the ground in Iowa. As Director Upchurch stood in front of the group and uttered those words, I looked at A/D Thompson and Director Carter and smiled. After Director Upchurch spoke, A/D Thompson and Director Carter told me they would also support making an Iowa narcotics association possible.
S/A Tani Fiems-Tanio of the D.N.E. and I proceeded to go to narcotics conferences in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Illinois, and Kansas to gain an insight as to how they ran their respective conferences but more importantly, how to run an association from the ground up. I give those four states a huge "thank you" for allowing us the access to their information without "re-inventing the wheel".
In the meantime, one of the other things that became apparent regarding a new association for the state of Iowa was that the Executive Board should be made up of city, county, and state officers. I strongly believed all jurisdictions should be represented so that their voices and ideas could help establish the direction I wanted the association to go. The core group of people who started the Iowa Narcotics Officers' Association are people who took on the enormous responsibility of trying to establish something new in Iowa but also had to find time to do so in addition to their normal job duties. From the winter of 2003 until April of 2005, there were a number of meetings that took place in Des Moines by the aforementioned group. During that time, I.N.O.A.'s Board was established. I had the honor of becoming the Association's first President.
The following people filled out the Association's first Board:
- Patrick Townsend, President, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement
- Dave Henderson, Vice-President, Johnson County Sheriff's Office
- Lori Lewis, Treasurer, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement
- Tani Fiems-Tanio, Secretary, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement
- Chris Nissen, Region 1 Director, Spencer Police Department
- Nick Larson, Region 2 Director, Kossuth County Sheriff's Department
- Mark Kautman, Region 3 Director, Clayton County Sheriff's Department
- Mike Mittan, Region 4 Director, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement
- Mike Seay, Region 5 Director, Centerville Police Department
- Tom McGuinty, Region 6 Director, Cedar County Sheriff's Office
In addition, Doug Hurley and Melissa Stock of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement also served on the original Board as volunteers. The above-mentioned list of names are the names listed on the Iowa Narcotics Officers' Association bylaws and Articles of Incorporation that were written and established in the State of Iowa in July of 2004.
It was a constant work in progress of trying to put together a first annual training conference that we could be proud of. Finally, from April 19 -21, 2005, there were 97 people in attendance for I.N.O.A.'s first annual conference. It was an unbelievable success and a relief at the same time. The "if you build it – they will come" comment was greatly anticipated and to see the seats filled by people at the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, Iowa, was a great sight to see.
A lot of things have changed since April of 2005. 1) I.N.O.A. became a member of the National Narcotics Officers' Association in November of 2005. The national membership allowed our Association to not only continue our work, training, and education among the people living in Iowa but also allowed the I.N.O.A. to become aware of trends, funding, and important information as it applies on the national level. 2) I.N.O.A. has put on a number of regional training opportunities throughout the six regions that I.N.O.A. is broken down into within the state. The training opportunities allow us to fulfill one of the major objectives that the initial members wanted the Association to be about – training/education. The training sessions have also allowed us to be seen and heard throughout the state for those who have not come to the annual conferences. Our membership has also grown as a result of the regional trainings. 3) Our iowanarcs.com website is up and running. It allows us to provide information of upcoming events within the Association, gives us a chance to tell people a little about ourselves and our Association, and provides links to other Associations and also the vendors who have been at our annual conference. 4) Our membership continues to show strong numbers. We have 275 active members within the Association and we will continue to strive to build upon those numbers. 5) As I mentioned earlier, we had 97 members attend the 1st Annual Conference. We had 144 members present for the 2008 4th Annual Conference. We will continue to bring strong and effective speakers to the annual conference and address topics that have a high regard to officer safety, present trends, and being able to do the job more effectively. 6) The magazine that you are currently reading. We have worked very hard to get to the point of being able to provide this service to our membership. The magazine will help the Board provide another outlet to get information out to you and also use it to highlight the many individuals and task forces on the front lines who are doing an excellent job in the everyday fight against drugs.
I.N.O.A. would not be possible without the time and energy that the Board of Directors have done to this date. Also, their work would not be possible without their Chiefs, Sheriffs, and Supervisors providing them with the time and opportunity to work within I.N.O.A. I thank both the Board and their bosses for allowing I.N.O.A. to become a reality. I would also like to say a special "thank you" to Director Upchurch of M.C.T.C. Without the efforts of M.C.T.C., our Association would not have been able to have the quality of speakers or annual conference and we would not be anywhere close to being this far established almost five years later.
The Iowa Narcotics Officers' Association will continue to add and improve fundamental pieces to the Association that will allow for quality education and training, and an opportunity for open information sharing. We would also like to have a solid representation of city, county, state, and federal officers, state and federal prosecutors, intelligence officers/analysts, correctional officers, and all other lines of support who work for the cause of keeping illegal drugs and the activities that are a direct result of drugs off the streets of Iowa.
I thank you all for your continued support.
Please be safe.
- Patrick Townsend
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