COPS Office nominates Arlington Police Department and Arlington Independent School District for 2016 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award

COPS Office Director Ronald L. Davis honored the community of Arlington, Texas, by presenting the 2016 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award to Lt. Tarrick McGuire of the Arlington Police Department and Principal Inelda Acosta of the Arlington Independent School District on October 3. Lt. McGuire and Principal Acosta partnered to form the Mentoring Arlington Youth (MAY) Program by bringing together law enforcement, educators, the business community, elected officials, the Arlington Police Foundation, faith-based groups, the University of Texas at Arlington, and community leaders.

From 2012 to 2014, the Arlington Municipal Court recorded an alarming rise in the number of juvenile assault-related criminal offenses in conjunction with an increase in the school drop-out rate in a particular section of the city. In this particular area, 75 percent of juvenile crimes involved at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 15 years old. Observing this and realizing that an opportunity existed, Lt. McGuire and Principal Acosta developed a strategic partnership between the police department and the school district to start mentoring this at-risk group by building the foundations of trust between law enforcement and youth. The MAY program that resulted is an 18-month program focusing on leadership, team building, community service, education, and career development by pairing at-risk youth with positive adult mentors.

At the start of the MAY Program, only 44 percent of participants said that they had respect for police officers. However, by the end of the first 8-week session, that number had jumped to 100 percent of MAY Program participants. Grades also improved by 75 percent at the end of the year, and school discipline-referrals went down. With the continuing support of Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson, the program—which started with a cohort of 10 students at Workman Junior High School—is now looking to accept its second cohort of students. In addition, because of the program’s previous success, a similar program for at-risk middle school–aged girls led by female officers is in the works. What started as one officer’s idea has now become a vital community program with lasting impact in the city of Arlington.

At the award ceremony, Director Davis exclaimed, “It is a great honor to present the 2016 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award to the Arlington Police Department, to Lt. Tarrick McGuire, and to Ms. Inelda Acosta. I applaud their efforts to create a safe space for law enforcement officers and young men of color to interact in positive nonenforcement engagement. Initiatives like the MAY Program can make all the difference in the trajectory of a young person’s life.”

The L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award is named for the late COPS Office founder and Deputy Director Tony Sutin. The purpose of the Sutin Award is to recognize the efforts of collaborative partnerships between law enforcement and community members whose innovative civic interaction has 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. The award is given to a team of two or more individuals—at least one law enforcement officer and one community member—involved in a high-impact and transformative collaboration that best exemplifies community policing.

Howard Stone
Community Policing Dispatch
Staff Writer

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