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2016 Community-Policing Award Honoree

Juan Munoz

Officer Juan Muñoz (Huntington Beach Police Department)

Officer Muñoz coordinates the Citizenship Academy for Spanish-speaking residents to build relationships between Huntington Beach Police Department and OakView neighborhood residents.

The Oak View Community is rich with culture and personality. And, its local Police Department has struggled over the years to connect in ways that enhance community partnership with police. Trying to come up with ways to reach out, develop trust and fortify existing relationships has been the goal in Oak View. As police resource strings have been pulled in different directions, officers were provided the opportunity to come up with community policing options. In an effort to better connect the community, Officer Muñoz was tasked with creating and overseeing a citizen’s academy for Spanish-speaking community members. As a part of his role, he attended the regular citizens’ academy to develop a framework for a Spanish-only program. Many of the aspects in the existing citizens’ academy format were not workable in Spanish. Officer Muñoz then put together a team of Spanish-speaking police employees and coordinated these volunteers to not only develop lesson plans in Spanish, but also to teach in their particular areas of expertise.

Prior to the program’s initial development, key community partners were identified and provided critical influence and information for the program. Officers and community partners worked side by side to identify issues within the Oak View community and address unvoiced issues such as immigration.  A solid foundation of trust was established and the program was launched. Community members graduated the 10 week program and requested to attend again. Graduates praised the partnership and friendships forged during the 10 weeks. The academy was a huge success. Everyone learned something from everyone. Officers benefited from working with community members as they exposed their inner feelings, and vice versa.

This program was specifically designed for the Oak View Spanish-speaking community. Community partners were used to conducting outreach and seeking leaders in the community that wanted to be a part of something bigger than they were. Cultural barriers that initially got in the way of the academy’s progress were eventually removed. Officer Muñoz and his team demonstrated strong leadership in the way they distinguished themselves with their peers and community members. Through community dialogue and agency transparency via meetings and unprecedented access to police personnel, the community has been changing. The non-traditional model of community involvement through collaboration and leadership development is a key aspect to this results-based community continuum.

About the Award

Our annual Community-Policing Award recognizes a department that has tailored creative strategies to provide outstanding service to, and build positive relationships with, their communities.

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