Each year, the IACP Civil Rights Committee selects law enforcement Civil Rights Award winners who have implemented programs or performed at a level of excellence that embodies best practices for civil rights achievement in law enforcement. This year, awards were given in two categories: Multi-Agency Award and Individual Achievement Award. The work of these award winners offers other agencies and individuals a check-list or road map to replicate, model, and adapt the programs, tactics, and strategies that advance civil rights integrity in policing. The award winners were sponsored by BDO. The award citations and statues were sponsored by V.H. Blackinton & Company.
Category: Multi-Agency Award
Agency: Vail Police Department, Colorado
Program: Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee
Description: Eagle County is one of the more affluent regions in Colorado. Its economy is based on outdoor recreation, tourism, ranching, and farming. The County is largely dependent on immigrant workers. Second-home mansions that dot Vail and neighboring ski areas are a direct contrast to the high-density apartment buildings and trailer parks where those who work in the service industry live. The 2010 U.S. Census shows over 30% of the population in Eagle County are Hispanic/Latino and 19.9% are foreign-born. The majority of the Latino and foreign-born population are Spanish-speaking immigrants and immigrant families from Mexico and South and Central America.
To better serve the immigrant community in Eagle County and help alleviate barriers to self-reliance, Vail Police Chief, Dwight Henninger, and the Regional Coordinator of Catholic Charities (CC) met in 2009 to discuss ways to build trust and increase communication between local law enforcement and the immigrant community. Chief Henninger approached the Regional Coordinator of CC, a faith-based organization that has been providing services on the Western Slope since 1995. Vail Police Department’s partnership with CC, an organization that had already established itself as credible through its work in the immigrant community, then led to plans to form the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee (LEIAC) with representatives from each local law enforcement agency and with immigrant leaders and advocates who would oversee, coordinate, and contribute to the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Initiative. Several immigrant community leaders were invited to apply for a seat on the Eagle County LEIAC. Applications were accepted based on levels of trust they held in the immigrant community, their aptitude to dispel rumors, and their readiness to engage in constructive dialogue, advise law enforcement and channel responsible information to the community.
The Eagle County LEIAC members and partners include: Vail Police Department; Basalt Police Department; Minturn Police Department; Avon Police Department; Eagle Police Department; Eagle County Sheriff’s Office; Colorado State Patrol; Latino representatives from the Eagle County School District; a Latina community representative from Bright Future Foundation (a domestic violence resource); a Latina community representative from Salvation Army; a Latina representative from Victim’s Services; a Latina representative from Eagle County Human Services; Eagle County Head Start; and Lone Star Security (the private security firm servicing two largely Latino-occupied housing complexes).
Assignments of suitable roles and responsibilities were established for each LEIAC member. The Vail Police Chief and the Regional Coordinator of CC serve as co-chairs and are responsible for formulating agendas, facilitating meetings, working with the media, and ensuring all members abide by consistent messaging guidelines. Each law enforcement agency head is responsible for ensuring LEIAC initiative objectives are met and do not conflict with any agency policy. If needed, agency heads are responsible for discussing and resolving issues in unison.
Each committee member is required to contribute agenda items, participate in community events, and take turns participating in workshops where Frequently Asked Questions brochures are distributed to the immigrant community. The success of the committee has to do with the active participation of all members and their ability to collaborate on consistent messaging throughout the county. The immigrant leaders provide training and the critical link as liaisons to the target population. LEIAC members believe that the premise of a successful initiative is a pledge to each other to first build a sense of community, communication, and trust among themselves and then model these characteristics to home agencies and the community at large. Vail Police Department and neighboring agencies used observations and experiences, patrol briefings, and applied the SARA Community Policing Model to top concerns of the community. Analysis of computer aided dispatch and records management system (CAD/RMS) data revealed a low rate of crime reporting by the Hispanic community as compared to the total service population from 2006-2010. The percentage of Hispanics arrested as compared to the total service population was high compared to the total service population for the same time period.
LEIAC members developed a three-phase implementation plan to deliver the LEAIC Initiative. Phase 1 included the integration of existing programs (National Night Out, Coat and Food Drives, and Shop With a Cop for underprivileged families); incorporation of the best practices of similar programs from other jurisdictions; the analysis of the characteristics and impact of crime within the immigrant community in Eagle County; and the identification of key issues and priorities from community surveys with respondents from the diverse community. Phase 2 framed short and long-term goals for brand recognition and marketing, educational campaigns, crime prevention, and problem solving milestones. Phase 3 defined measurement tools to test the effectiveness of the initiative in meeting target goals.
Objectives defined in the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Initiative include: Increasing police-immigrant community trust and advancing civil rights; increasing the frequency of collaborative interactions between law enforcement and the immigrant community; increasing the number of Hispanic/Latino(a)s who report crime; decreasing the number of Hispanic/Latino(a)s who are arrested; and decreasing the rate of victimization among the immigrant community.
Measures to accomplish these objectives include:
- Fostering partnerships in strategic problem identification and problem solving by focusing on dual-education and communication for police officers and the immigrant community.
- Engaging police and the foreign-born community in positive dialogue and interactions in order to learn about each other’s roles, responsibilities, values, culture, customs, traditions, concerns, and priorities.
- Bringing questions and areas of concerns raised to individual law enforcement agencies. Likewise, bringing questions and concerns articulated by immigrants at community gatherings to law enforcement.
- Providing outreach, resources, education, and information in both Spanish and English on a frequent basis which include:
- Presentations on vital information from immigration attorneys, Homeland Security and ICE, and police personnel. Topics include road safety, the judicial system, child welfare, the police-immigrant relationship, and the role of private security agencies.
- A Frequently Asked Questions for Law Enforcement brochure developed and distributed by LEIAC. The FAQ serves as a starting point for education and outreach. By having all of the heads of law enforcement endorse the information in the brochure, the community is assured that their encounters with Eagle County law enforcement officers and deputies will be similar, based on one set of consistent protocols and procedures. In the brochure, the chiefs have provided their contact information so a community member can contact them directly with questions or concerns.
- Attendance by both law enforcement officers and the immigrant committee members after Spanish language church services, at local events, ESL classes and schools where pertinent topics are addressed.
- Law enforcement agencies in Eagle County made it a priority to hire culturally and ethnically diverse personnel (Spanish, French and Russian speaking individuals
- Surveys seeking input from each county law enforcement member on what they feel they need, what questions they need answered, and what concerns they have with the immigrant community interactions.
- Training curriculums for law enforcement officers based on survey results. Curriculums include: communication tips for speaking with non-English speakers; community resources; a basic orientation to immigration law; and culture-specific information about the immigrant community in Eagle County.
- Community outreach events, including National Night Out, law enforcement ride-alongs, events that are tailored to each neighborhood characteristic encourages positive interactions and “get-to-know-you” activities between the residents and local law enforcement.
- Meetings with immigrant community advocates, civic entities, tenant associations, school faculty, business owners, retirees and residents from all social classes, and ethnic groups to discuss ways to target interventions and crime prevention activity.
By building on a continuum of good work through the LEIAC Initiative, Eagle County Law Enforcement is cultivating a toolkit for fostering meaningful relationships with the diverse community and addressing their needs.
Category: Individual Achievement Award
Agency: Tony R. Jones, Chief of Police, Gainesville Police Department, Florida
Program: Reichert House and B.O.L.D.
Description: Chief Tony R. Jones has been a life-long resident of the city of Gainesville, Florida. He began his law enforcement career at the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) as a Police Explorer and Cadet in 1975. He has been a sworn law enforcement officer with the GPD as an Officer, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, District Commander, and Chief. During his lengthy career at GPD, he has influenced hundreds of citizens and has made it a special point to work with at-risk minority youth and their families. He was a member of the first Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) team at this agency. Chief Jones has been instrumental in cultivating and maintaining positive relationships with the minority community through the development of partnerships with private citizens, business leaders, and local government entities. He has also been instrumental in the development of the Black on Black Crime Task Force; a standing committee focused on minority issues in the community. He maintains a high level of involvement with state and national civic/service organizations toward furthering this goal. He was appointed to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice State Advisory Committee as well as the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Federal Advisory Committee and is regarded as an expert in juvenile justice issues.
Chief Jones is a co-founder of the Reichert House Youth Academy, which has been operating since 1985, and now serves young boys from the ages of 7 through 18. The Reichert House provides: academic and vocational assistance; after school tutoring support and mentoring; anger and stress management techniques and training; guidance and career counseling; mental health assistance, if necessary; meals in a traditional family setting; and opportunities for community service experiences for approximately 100 youth annually. This assistance is provided in a caring and supportive environment. The success of the Reichert House has literally made the difference for hundreds of minority youth. This support often leads to academic achievement culminating in a high school diploma and entrance into college. The Reichert House is funded through the support of the GPD, the Black on Black Crime Task Force, the City of Gainesville, and private donors.
Chief Jones has also been instrumental in soliciting state and federal grant support to fund youth-related issues. In 2012, the GPD received a grant from the Center for Children’s Law and Policy to study minority disproportionate representation in the juvenile justice system in Gainesville and Alachua County; this grant award was only received by two agencies in the nation. Chief Jones has also been instrumental in the development of a program serving another at-risk minority male population. Young minority men between the ages of 18 and 25 who have not completed their education and who may already have had serious encounters with law enforcement and incarceration are especially at risk for re-offending. This program, called the Bold Overt Leaders of Distinction (B.O.L.D.) specifically addresses the needs of these young men and provides housing, mentoring, health care, job placement, and educational support. Outreach advocacy also extends to the judicial system which recognizes both of these programs as strong alternatives to traditional sentencing.
Chief Jones’ leadership roles on state and national juvenile justice committees have placed him in a unique position to provide his insight into the problem of disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system to a larger forum. The Chief also shares information learned in a national setting to influence and guide policy decisions locally. His influence is felt in all areas of the community through his commitment to service organizations like Rotary International, the Boys and Girls Club of Alachua County, the Black on Black Crime Task Force, the School Board of Alachua County (Gainesville High School Advisory Council), Alachua/Bradford County Workforce Board, the Gainesville Job Corps, and the United Way of Alachua County.
Category: Individual Achievement - Honorable Mention
Agency: Muawiya (Mike) Abdeen, Sergeant, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California
Program: Muslim Community Affairs Unit
Description: After 9/11, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recognized the vulnerability of the Muslim community as victims of hate crimes. To address this concern, Mike Abdeen, was assigned as a full-time sergeant to work with the Muslim community.
Sergeant Abdeen developed long-term, harmonious relationships with local Muslim leaders in Los Angeles. He created the Young Muslim American Leaders group to discuss items of interest in the community and civil rights issues, and also developed a public web-site that provided education products related to law enforcement, a list of community events, and contact numbers for assistance related civil rights issues. He also developed an eight-hour curriculum for Cultural Awareness training that is presented to deputy sheriffs and is available for other agencies upon request.
Sergeant Abdeen’s strong relationship with the community assists in mitigation of situations between civil service employees and the public, and he is known for rendering an impartial third party view to address situations of conflict.