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Community Policing Award Honoree

Tustin Police Department

It is no secret that, due to some unfortunate high-profile incidents, relationships between minority youth and the police have been strained all across the United States. The Tustin Police Department, in partnership with Orange County Human Relations, participated in two Community Dialogue meetings at Currie Middle School in November 2017 in an effort to mend and improve relationships with the youth of their community.

The goal of these dialogue meetings was to provide middle school students with the opportunity to sit down, face-to-face, with police officers in a non-threatening environment. This allowed for an open exchange of information and provided the opportunity for both police and teens to freely express varying perspectives without the fear some middle school students may experience when speaking to police. Officers John Hedges, Jorge Sanchez and Robert Nelson enthusiastically participated in the dialogues.

At the end of the dialogue meetings, the officers and the students walked away with a better understanding of each other. The students now feel more comfortable in talking to the police and feeling safer having the police in their neighborhood. The officers now have a better understanding of the student’s point of view and why some youth in our community might fear the police. And, it is hoped, the participants will be inspired to become advocates for peace and police-community partnerships.

In addition to the community dialogue meetings, the officers participated in a variety of other programs aimed at improving relationships between the police and the community. Feedback from the community has been very positive.

About the Award

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

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