Jump to page 50 of Washington FAMILY Magazine’s July 2012 issue and read the article as it looks in print!
The Washington DC Police Foundation is an organization not only fighting crime, but they are helping children realize their potential, are keeping them safe and keeping their communities safe. From fighting drug abuse to aiding kids affected by traumatic experiences, the Foundation is increasing its presence in the DC area step by step to foster a better relationship between the Metropolitan Police Department and the community.
The Foundation is a fairly young organization – officially established as a police foundation and non-profit organization in 2007 – and they are becoming a strong part of the DC community as they continue to grow. Their main focus is to “bring together business, civic and other professional communities to promote public safety,” and in following this mission, they are making DC a safer place to live, work and travel by fulfilling public safety needs.
In order to fulfill the safety needs of DC communities, the Foundation works with at-risk children and neighborhoods to implement several programs. These programs focus on working alongside parents, educators and children in order to improve at-risk and high-risk communities in the DC area.
Along with working with communities to improve public safety in the DC area, police officers must be properly trained in order to not only keep our local communities safe, but our nation’s capitol. This is why the Tactical Village Project is currently in effect. The Foundation and the MPD look forward to the completion of the Tactical Village, a “state-of-the-art skills training center,” which is a reconstruction project for an urban street in DC. Because DC is such a unique city, there are many challenges that surface for law enforcement, security, crisis management and other organizations that keep the our communities and the Capitol safe. The Tactical Village addresses these challenges by making the training conditions similar to real-life situations. It is anticipated that by the end of 2012, the training center will be ready for on-site training, and the MPD, as well as other safety organizations, will be better prepared to handle safety and security issues.
As a way to get children involved in the community and to improve their perception of law enforcement, the Foundation and the MPD offer the Junior Cadet Program. The program is geared toward fifth and sixth grade students at two DC public schools, Seaton Elementary School in Ward 2 and Winston Education Campus in Ward 7. The Junior Cadet Program is often viewed as a gateway to the Police Cadet Training Program, a program for 17 to 21 year-olds who are enrolled in a DC high school, have a GED or want to pursue a career in law enforcement that offers education, training and experience in law enforcement. Through this program, the Foundation and MPD use the assistance, skill and resources from representatives of other nonprofit organizations to assist parents and grandparents with the challenging environmental issues of raising children in high-risk areas. By maintaining students’ focus on their education and future goals, both the Junior Cadet Program and the Police Cadet Training Program build character and create lasting relationships between the MPD and the community with a purpose to keep young participants interested in law enforcement.
Students Taking Another Route to Success, or STARS, is a DC Police Foundation project that focuses on 90 at-risk middle and high school students, who are 14-years-old and older, for a summer camp to teach job skills. This camp, help from June until August, offers educational modules, that include educational and cultural field trips, in math and reading, cultural diversity training and community projects. Many lectures are given about college preparation, application and tuition assistance from the deans of DC, Maryland and Virginia colleges and universities.
MPD also offers a program specifically geared toward young girls, Girls Time Out. This program provides mentors to 30 teenage girls who have come in contact with the juvenile justice system. GTO offers these girls positive role models and activities for them to be involved with in order to prevent potential criminal behavior in the future. The program provides valuable information and instruction on life skills, social development, anger management, the importance of education and how to adapt to different environments. Parents are also involved in the program, and MPD officers and mentors continuously interact with parents in order to educate them on what they can do to help implement GTO.
In order to fund community outreach efforts across the seven police districts of Washington, DC, the MPD was granted $40,000 in order to start the Citywide Youth Program (CYP). The goals of CYP are to foster relationships with youth and community members, bring social services and violence prevention initiatives directly to the community and to develop relationships with the local schools, businesses, churches and other community organizations to increase awareness about what causes crime and violence in communities. Some programs that police districts have put in play are Back-to-School events, Shop with a Cop, Halloween Safe Haven, Community Day, Summer of Safety, Beat the Streets and Senior Party.
The MPD also hosts a Youth Advisory Council College Tour, a program that shows 60 DC Public School students the opportunities college campuses harbor. These kids have already come into contact with the juvenile justice system, so many are considered “at-risk” or “high-risk” children. Before the tour, college-readiness workshops are held to show kids how they can get a mindset of bettering their education and looking forward to future employment. College Tours, as well as showing kids how they can succeed academically and socially, is teaching kids how they can live up to their life’s potential.
Drug abuse has been common among urban areas, and DC isn’t an exception. The MPD Chief of Police reached out to the Foundation in order to rise $90,000 to help fight the concerning rise of the drug, PCP. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, this drug is “abused because of the mind-altering, hallucinogenic effects it produces,” and shockingly, “many teenagers and young adults use PCP – 225,000 individuals aged 12 to 17 and 777,000 individuals aged 18 to 25 used the drug at least once.” In order to combat the numbers in DC, the MPD purchased surveillance equipment, protective gear and technology to do on-site testing of the drug. This equipment and technology has aided MPD’s Vice Unit fight against PCP use and abuse, as well as close major court cases in DC.
The Foundation also holds the Law Enforcement Awards Luncheon, an annual fundraiser for MPD employees who have showed an extraordinary amount of service to the DC community and the police department. Business, civic and law enforcement leaders are invited and attend the awards ceremony, to honor the MPD employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
The DC Police Foundation continues to make a difference in the DC community and in children’s lives through their programs that aim for better community-living and cooperation with law enforcement. Only through increased effort and support can the Foundation continue helping DC police officers keep the metropolitan area a safe place for children and families.