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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The Arlington Police Department (APD) is one of the leaders in the field of hometown recruitment. The Hometown Recruiting Program, which the department launched in 2015, has cultivated and grown over the last three years.
In 2015, the APD teamed up with the Arlington Independent School District (AISD) and the University of Texas-Arlington (UTA) to begin planting the seeds of working in law enforcement with high school students. The Hometown Recruiting Program gives high school students a hands-on opportunity to learn, see and apply the principles that instructors are instilling in their peers.
“One of the goals of the program is to give students a realistic view on what exactly police work is on a day to day basis,” said Officer Fred Kemp. “The gap between students’ expectations and the reality of police work is most easily bridged by their own involvement with APD officers and the community. The only way to do this is to utilize APD resources to get these students involved with our training, outreach and daily responsibilities.”
Kemp has been with the program since its inception and has watched it grow from day one.
The Nation’s First
The Hometown Recruiting Program is believed to be the first of its kind in terms of collaboration among three of Arlington’s largest public institutions. It builds upon existing early admissions efforts between UTA and AISD, and the strong relationship between the University, the school district and the APD.
“The Arlington Police Department has a long-standing commitment to only hire officers who have achieved their college degrees,” Arlington Police Chief Will D. Johnson said. “This program invests in the youth of Arlington, supports our University and helps ensure that new generations of degreed officers will be available to serve our community at the highest level.”
AISD Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos and UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said the program gives high school students, who decide early on a college degree plan and a career path, new opportunities for a head start.
“More than ever, high school juniors and seniors have the opportunity to maximize their high school experience, earn early college credit and advance seamlessly toward their undergraduate degrees and the workforce,” Cavazos said. “This initiative helps to create a talent pool for the Arlington Police Department and helps students build a secure future.”
In the Field
Students attended regularly scheduled workouts at the APD Training Center in order to get ready for the challenge of starting the police academy and stay fit. The students even had the opportunity to work with APD SWAT during their bi-weekly training, which was held at a local high school. The volunteers were placed on a bus as “hostages,” while the officers made rescue attempts. Students were able to see the effectiveness of years of team training used in a high stress environment. Trainings that show leadership are an invaluable tool for the students to see in action.
In October, “Class 3” of the AISD Police Academy was able to attend the annual Criminal Justice Guest Speaker Week at UTA, which provides the public and UTA’s Criminology department with local law enforcement perspectives on current policing trends.
One speaker, Mrs. Jackson-Dougle, is a regional domestic violence education advocate and instructor at UTA. She shared her own brave story of overcoming domestic violence, and its effect on her and her family. Students became familiar with volunteering opportunities within the community that can have a big impact on families in need of assistance.
The Hometown Recruiting Program has experienced rapid growth in the three years since the beginning of the program. Since 2015, the APD’s Hometown Recruiting Program has seen a 300 percent increase in applications and 200 percent increase in actual class growth.
34 students graduated and completed the program last year. 23 of those students enrolled in college, while 11 students elected to serve in the military.
In the 2016-17 school year, APD dedicated 695 officer resource hours to work with students from the Hometown Recruiting Program. The department had 125 officers participate in the program throughout the year in various capacities.
The Arlington Police Association and Amigos En Azul, both employee associations, have donated money to help pay tuition costs for students earning dual credit hours in criminal justice at UTA.
The AISD recently opened a new $64 million Career and Technical Facility, which members of the Hometown Recruiting Program are able to use in their training. The program has grown so quickly that before the school year even started, alumni and incoming students worked together during the summer to bond with each other and swap stories from their recent semesters in high school and college.
Current APD officers continue to volunteer their time, expertise and assistance, to expand the amount of opportunities and successes for the program. Students are able to participate in training scenarios that help them understand how worthwhile police work can be. The hands-on training helps students explore the law enforcement profession and what is expected of them when pursuing a career in law enforcement.
“Each student that not only completes the high school academy program but also graduates from an accredited university with a bachelor's degree, is given a preliminary interview for employment with the Arlington Police Department,” Kemp said. “It is then up to each member to utilize the information and lessons learned, and we hope they eventually graduate from our own APD Police Academy to provide service in their own hometown.”
The department is looking forward to the day when the first Hometown Recruiting Program graduate will wear the APD badge to serve their hometown. “That day is getting closer as our program continues to evolve,” said Chief Johnson. “Our diversity will continue to reflect the community we serve since we are recruiting directly from the school district. This is a natural result of pulling young people from our hometown.”
Lieutenant – Media Office
Arlington Police Department
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