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The L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award

The L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award is an annual award bestowed upon a collaborative team of law enforcement and community members whose innovative civic interactions have transformed public safety in their community.

Each year, the winning team of two or more individuals (at least one law enforcement officer and one community member) successfully demonstrates active engagement with the community in a multifaceted manner that has been sustained over time and has resulted in positive, observable public safety outcomes.

The ideal nominee team for this award:
  • creates sustainable collaborations that are innovative, creative, and transformative;
  • displays civic leadership through problem solving and collaborative partnerships;
  • institutionalizes sustainable, positive, observable public safety outcomes;
  • promotes public safety through dedication to the community policing philosophy;
  • deploys community policing strategies to contribute to the reduction of violent crime such as human trafficking, gun crime, drug trafficking, and gang violence, which can be replicated in similar jurisdictions.

The L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award is named in memory of Tony Sutin, who served as a founder and deputy director of the COPS Office from its creation in 1994 until 1996 when he became the principal deputy to the associate attorney general of the United States. He then served as acting assistant attorney general for legislative affairs before joining the faculty of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, in 1999. He quickly became dean and served in this capacity until his untimely death on January 16, 2002. Tony was widely known and respected for his brilliant intellect, quiet wit, and tremendous commitment to service and community. It is with great admiration and respect for Tony's many contributions to the COPS Office and the principles of community policing that the COPS Office names this award in his memory.

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The Arlington Police Department (TX) and the Arlington Independent School District's Mentoring Arlington Youth (MAY) Program

The Mentoring Arlington Youth (MAY) Program launched in July 2015 through a partnership with the Arlington Police Department, the City of Arlington Municipal Court, and the Arlington Independent School District.

The 18-month program began as an idea of Lt. Tarrick McGuire as an opportunity to serve young African-American and Hispanic male students in the seventh and eighth grades. In collaboration with Principal Inelda Acosta of Workman Junior High School, Lt. McGuire was able to start the program, and brought together law enforcement, educators, faith-based groups, and community leaders with a cohort of 10 students.

Through interactive workshops on leadership, team building, education and career development, along with community service-learning modules, the MAY Program helps to foster relationships between youth and positive adult role models. Its goal is to enhance confidence by supporting academic achievement, while increasing social and cultural awareness and promoting personal development.

Results from the first MAY cohort:
  • One hundred percent of the mentees reported that they now trusted police officers
  • The number of trips to the principal’s office dropped from fifty percent to just ten percent
  • Discipline referrals also dropped from 67 percent of the young males to 22 percent
  • Seventy-eight percent of the young boys reported that they respected their school staff and environment
  • Eighty-nine percent reported an earned respect for school staff
  • Participants had an 11 percent improvement in grades as well
  • By the end of the school year, the principal reported an overall seventy-five percent increase in grades.
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Chief Scott Lewis Nadeau, Columbia Heights (MN) Police Department, and Superintendent Kathy L. Kelly, Columbia Heights School District

Columbia Heights’s Police Chief  Nadeau and Superintendent Kelly developed a strategic partnership between the police department and the school district. Together, they invested in the community and schools to improve and meet the specific needs of the students. As an outgrowth of this partnership, Nadeau and Kelly developed different programs to help build trust between law enforcement and youth.

Jointly, they developed the Cops-N-Kids youth outreach program, where officers began hosting weekly open gym events at both the middle and high schools to create a safe haven for youth and build trust. While youth engage in recreational activities, they are also able to interact with law enforcement and create a more open, honest dialogue. The Cops-N-Kids program has led to more than 5,000 positive youth contacts between the police department and the youth.

The success of the Cops-N-Kids program led to other effective programs and interactions. Under the leadership of Nadeau, the police department became an active member in the Big Brother Big Sister program. Of the 25-person department, 14 employees are committed to being “bigs.” Many other programs were created as a result of this success.

These youth educational programs were instituted partially because of the high youth arrest record, which averaged 247 youths arrested per year. Once these programs were implemented, youth arrests reached an all-time low of 106 youths arrested in 2014. In addition, school attendance is up, and K-12 suspensions are down by 130 percent.

Overall, Nadeau and Kelly’s leadership and partnership have created a positive and strong response prior to a critical incident. Their passion for safety and the well-being of the community embodies all of the principles of the L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award.

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Corporal Michael Nelson, Corporal Robert Reu, Corporal Sylee Gibson, Corporal Angela Ison, Corporal James Spartz, and Corporal William Pschigoda, East Naples COPS Unit, Collier County (FL) Sheriff’s Office; and Interim Director Jean Jourdan, Bayshore/Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment Area

The East Naples COPS Unit and Interim Director Jourdan formed the Bayshore Triangle Project task force to target the problems in the Bayshore area. This successful task force transformed a crime-riddled community  struggling with disorder into a thriving, healthy community.

The partnership continues to grow and strengthen by including other East Naples COPS deputies, Code Enforcement, the Community Redevelopment Area, and other government and community organizations. In addition, other areas of East Naples and Collier County have implemented the ideas and strategies used in this project to promote community growth, to build partnerships, and to break down the barriers between law enforcement and the public.

The team displayed strong civil leadership by focusing on community input and problem solving to improve the community. The project institutionalized remarkable public safety outcomes that are sustainable, positive, and observable. There has been a 47 percent decrease in calls for service, an increase in commercial growth, and an increase in cultural events since the start of the project.

The team has promoted public safety through a dedication to problem solving, partnerships, and community transformation—all critical components of community policing. Overall, the Bayshore Triangle project has truly optimized the community policing principles by improving the community’s quality of life and civic engagement through innovative partnerships and problem solving.

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Chief Dwight E. Henninger, Vail (CO) Police Department, and Coordinator Megan McGee Bonta, Catholic Charities

Together, Police Chief Henninger and Coordinator Bonta honored the community through their vision, courage, transformative efforts, and civic imagination. They have worked selflessly and with great dedication for the last three years on growing the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigration Advisory Initiative, which they launched in 2009. Henninger and Bonta also promoted the formation of the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee (LEIAC).

The LEIAC program provides case management and referral services, mediation assistance, and civic workshops and advocates on the immigrant’s behalf to ensure the protection of their rights. The committee includes representatives from each local law enforcement agency collaborating with immigrant advocates who oversee, coordinate, and contribute to the Eagle County LEIAC.

Overall, Henninger and Bonta initiated an innovative program for a complicated and important topic. They created a strong foundation of partnerships for a broad-based coalition, with strong buy-in from all levels of law enforcement. This initiative has established an ongoing venue for the community and is being replicated by other communities.

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Former Chief James Fealy, High Point (NC) Police Department, and President Gretta Bush, High Point Community Against Violence

In 2003, then Police Chief Fealy met with Professor David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to discuss his theory of shutting down drug markets. The first chief to hear Kennedy’s idea, Fealy took a chance and formed a collaboration to implement the strategy. Together with President Gretta Bush, they implemented what would become known as the High Point Drug Market Intervention (DMI) strategy, a police-community partnership and focused deterrent strategy that addresses violent crime and illicit drug dealing. DMI effectively collapsed overt drug markets, dramatically reduced violent crime associated with those markets, and required few arrests. The strategy has also been credited with building police-community trust, racial reconciliation, and community transformation.

The measurable results of this strategy are just as impressive. High Point experienced a 34 percent reduction in violent crime since 2003. Some neighborhoods, such as the West End, saw violent crime fall by as much as 57 percent. These numbers have been sustained for over 7 years. In 2011, High Point reported just three homicides a year for a population of roughly 104,000 citizens. Fealy retired in February 29, 2012, after the partnership he formed closed five drug markets in High Point.

The winning element of this project was the collaboration between Fealy and the community. Fealy and Bush demonstrated exceptional community policing and leadership by not only bringing community members together to address these problems but also allowing residents to have a role in implementing a solution. Public meetings were held to share police and community narratives, reconcile differences, and share information about the strategy. DMI required significant courage and trust on the part of both Fealy and the community and solidified the police-community partnership in High Point. This core community policing philosophy has been applied to other public safety programs and has been replicated by numerous jurisdictions around the country.

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Lieutenant Dean Richard Isabella, Providence (RI) Police Department, and Executive Director Frank Shea, Olneyville Housing Corporation

Lieutenant Isabella has come to know the residents and youth of Olneyville and has actively engaged other partners in the Olneyville housing project. Between 2002 and 2007, police calls for service dropped 85.6 percent in the area surrounding the park and stayed low throughout 2010, without crime displacement. After an unsettling fire in March 2011, Isabella brought the Providence police chief, Olneyville Housing Corporation, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation together to create a foreclosure response project. Isabella has worked with these organizations to develop a number of strategies to decrease the impact of a distressed economy by addressing vacant and unmaintained nuisance properties.

Executive Director Shea integrated both corporations’ experience with renovating and developing housing opportunities for low-income residents with Isabella’s vision to create an innovative, effective way to transform the community’s quality of life and improve safety. Although a lot of individuals are needed to revitalize a neighborhood, Isabella and Shea created an environment in which to foster this opportunity.