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2013 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award Winners

BPD officers accepting a award for METThe COPS Office is pleased to announce Dwight E. Henninger, police chief of Vail (Colorado) Police Department, and Megan McGee Bonta, coordinator at Catholic Charities, as the winners of the 2013 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award.

The Sutin Civic Imagination Award recognizes the efforts of collaborative partnerships within the community. This honor is bestowed upon a team of law enforcement and community members whose innovative civic interactions have transformed public safety in their community. Nominees are those actively engaged with the community in a multifaceted manner that has been sustained over time and has resulted in positive, observable public safety outcomes.

An ideal nominee:

  • 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

Vail Police Chief Dwight E. Henninger and Catholic Charities Regional Coordinator Megan McGee Bonta have honored the community through their vision, courage, transformative efforts, and civic imagination. Henninger and Bonta have worked selflessly, and with great dedication, for the last three years on growing the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigration Advisory Initiative—an initiative 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 Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Initiative.

Henninger and Bonta met all four of the criteria for the ideal winner of the 2013 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award, as seen here:

Creates sustainable collaborations that are innovative, creative, and transformative

Henninger and Bonta initially brought together local law enforcement and community stakeholders to serve on the LEIAC, and expanded to currently more than 35 agencies to include neighboring law enforcement agencies, the school district, nonprofit organizations, victim services, and a private security firm. The impact of the committee has led to a decreasing rate of victimization among the immigrant community, increased police-immigrant community trust, and advancement of civil rights.

Displays civil leadership through problem solving and collaborative partnerships

Henninger and Bonta engage in high-impact endeavors to improve neighborhood safety and livability by working with public and private organizations. They foster partnerships in strategic problem identification and problem solving by focusing on dual-education and communication for police officers and the immigrant community. They apply the SARA model (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) to top concerns of the community. Henninger and Bonta also recognize that children are important social change agents, and include them in the police explorer program. Finally, they provide outreach, resources, education, and information in both English and Spanish on a frequent basis to the community, which includes presentations, FAQs, surveys, and trainings.

Institutionalizes sustainable, positive, observable public safety outcomes

Henninger and Bonta speak out at community events and in the media about how immigrants in the United States are increasingly vulnerable to crime, disorder, and exploitation both from outside and within their community. The best measure of the magnitude of impact of their influential and courageous leadership is by reversed police-immigrant attitudes in Eagle County, decreased victimization within the multicultural population, the improved rate of crime reporting by the Latino community, and advanced civil rights and racial equality.

Promotes public safety through dedication to the community policing philosophy

Henninger and Bonta dedicate themselves to a wide range of humanitarian acts, encourage others to do the same, and formally acknowledge those who do. Sub-components of community policing such as communication, teamwork, and support have gotten stronger under Henninger and Bonta’s leadership. They have created an environment of shared responsibility between the police and the community to formidably respond to primary and chronic crime issues—an environment which has never been so resilient.

Overall, Henninger and Bonta initiated—and still maintain—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. For their great work and dedication to the community, the COPS Office congratulates Chief Henninger and Coordinator Bonta on winning the 2013 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award!

The COPS Office will be highlighting a sampling of the 2013 Sutin Award nominees and their incredible work in forthcoming articles.

Nazmia Alqadi
COPS Office

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Proactive Community Engagement | Public Safety Partnerships | Toxic Leaders Derailing Your CP | Combatting Crime in Harlem | 2013 Sutin Award Winners | COPS Office Micro-Grant Initiative | 2014 CPD Program