The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD) developed the concept for the P.R.I.D.E. program in 2012 to provide the young adults in our jurisdiction to opportunity to learn life, people, and behavioral coping skills so that are equipped to choose to be productive members of the community as they move into adulthood rather than emulate some of the poor life choices such as gang membership and criminal enterprise that many of our children have as examples in the home.
The P.R.I.D.E. Program places police officers as coaches with students of the Texarkana Arkansas School District to be a lifelong mentor. These students are taught decision-making skills, coping techniques, enhanced self-esteem, and anger management. Each year, during the P.R.I.D.E Academy the students complete at least two community service projects such as cleaning up local parks and packaging food at the local food bank. The students are gaining school and community pride while bonding with police officers to build positive lasting relationships and a more positive view of law enforcement.
The goal of the P.R.I.D.E Program is to reduce at-risk behaviors by promoting healthy lifestyles, educational achievement, and financial stability in youth by building positive influences in their lives before reaching adulthood. While building on the concept of self-confidence, discipline, and team participation, lessons and activities based on a variety of topics are provided in an interactive format during the week-long P.R.I.D.E Academy. Some of the activities included an obstacle course, skits, music, and meeting the K-9’s. Additionally, the campers learn about dangers of drugs and alcohol, gang prevention, peer pressure, anti-bullying, internet safety, gun safety, first aid, and what to do in an emergency. The instructors for these learning blocks are representatives from our community partners. The last day of this camp is designed to recognize the children’s accomplishments over the week. The day ends with a graduation ceremony attended by their families and diplomas awarded by the Chief of Police. Campers are also given a full-size backpack containing all of the required school supplies needed for the upcoming school year.
This year, 2018, will be the eighth year of operation for the P.R.I.D.E. Program. Many prior students cite their time in the P.R.I.D.E. Academy as one of their greatest experiences in their school years. Many graduates have excelled as youth leaders within their school and community (as indicated below) and several have returned to the camp to mentor new campers.
The impact of the P.R.I.D.E. Academy since inception August 2012 is over 1000 graduates, peer leaders, and community volunteers. We are just now beginning to see the long term impact of the P.R.I.D.E. Academy through the data and statistics that have been gathered so far. Every P.R.I.D.E. Academy graduate continues be monitored throughout their career in this school district by TAPD to ensure greater success.
As we have continued to grow, we have seen the overall success of the P.R.I.D.E. Program through the positive results in school behaviors, continued community involvement, and a measurable reduction in our juvenile crime rate.
The P.R.I.D.E. Program continues to grow within the Texarkana Arkansas. The program is now in its 8th year, the first-year P.R.I.D.E. Academy graduates are now in the 12th grade at Arkansas High School. The participants have been tracked since 2012, the first P.R.I.D.E Academy class and will continue to be monitored throughout their school career. This data proves the significant behavioral improvements of the students involved in the P.R.I.D.E Program.
The juvenile arrest rate in Texarkana, Arkansas has fallen approximately 54% in the past 7 years.
Currently, we are working with the University of Texas to produce research publications and policy briefs on the benefits of this type of community-school policing model. After reviewing the P.R.I.D.E. Program Dr. Joshua Childs, a professor and researcher of Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin said, “I believe that the program is one of the more innovative and unique ones in the country concerning connecting 5-12th grade students with police officers who work in their community.”
Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the P.R.I.D.E. Program, after the positive impact on at-risk youth, is the community involvement and partnerships that drive the program have collaborated on other endeavors. Through P.R.I.D.E., many organizations and community stakeholders who otherwise would never have the opportunity, have worked together not only on this program but other community programs including park projects and animal welfare events.
The involvement of police officers, community stakeholders, educators, and so many others demonstrates to these children that their communities are invested in their success and well-being. By helping these children, the community benefits as well with new relationships and partnerships and a sense of shared purpose.
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Citizens Police Academy
The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department believes that education is most effective in gaining understanding and support from the community. Through implementation of the Citizen Police Academy, the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department offers its citizens new insights into how police agents perform their duties, as well as how the department serves the community.
The Citizen Police Academy is a seven-week program designed to give the public a working knowledge of the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department. Each session consists of weekly classes that meet at Texarkana Arkansas Police Headquarters. The instruction is comprehensive; each week different units within the department are covered. Classes are taught by various police personnel from the department. Each police agent develops his/her own class curriculum addressing subjects such as basic law, patrol procedures, narcotics, vice, SWAT, K-9, and officer survival.
A career-oriented program under Learning for Life designed for young adults between 16-20 years of age. The Texarkana Police Explorers experience hands on training on police tactics and the law enforcement field.
Shop with a Cop/ Cops and Kids
For over 25 years, the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department have sponsored and administered two programs to provide assistance, and holiday cheer to at risk children in our metro community. The first is “Shop With A Cop”. During this annual event, at risk children are selected by police officers, who have had prior contact at some point, weather on a 911 call of service or during a community contact. These chosen children will be partnered with a law enforcement officer and are provided a $100.00 bill. The children then have the opportunity to interact with a positive role model, and shop for Christmas gifts at Wal-Mart. It is a touching event, as many of the children, some extremely young, will purchase items for siblings and other family members who they recognize are themselves in need.
The second event we sponsor is the “Cops & Kids Christmas”. During this event, the men and women of the police association organize a night out for children who reside at the Texarkana Baptist Orphanage, and WaterSprings Ranch.
These special children are picked up by uniformed officers, in marked police units, and are transported in a convoy to the Four States Fairgrounds where they eat, fellowship with officers, and receive a small gift, courtesy of the donors, and the men and women of our agency. The Texarkana Arkansas Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (T.A.C.P.A.A.A) puts in hours of hard work and fundraising to ensure a magical night of holiday cheer.
Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch, Town Watch, Crime Watch – whatever the name, it’s one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear in your neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch Programs fight the isolation and separation that crime creates and feeds upon. It forges bonds among area residents and businesses, helps reduce burglaries and robberies, and improves relations between police and the communities they serve.
Neighborhood Watch is the cornerstone of the TAPD’s crime prevention strategy. It enlists the active participation of residents, in cooperation with law enforcement, to reduce crime in communities throughout the city.
The Neighborhood Watch program was instituted by the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department to educate community residents regarding their roles and responsibilities in the prevention of crime, and to encourage them to take active measures to prevent crime. The program calls upon residents to step forward and assist the police in organizing the community into a cohesive unit working toward the goal of building a safer, crime-free neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch groups discuss neighborhood crime problems with the objective of developing solutions to local problems. Texarkana Arkansas Police Officers supply crime information to neighborhood watch organizations and instruct these groups in various crime prevention techniques.
The continuity and success of the Neighborhood Watch program hinges on the person referred to as the Block Captain. The “Block Captain” is a community member who acts as a liaison between those who work and/or live in a particular area, and the officers assigned to that area. Through the Block Captain, and through neighborhood general meetings, officers pass along crime prevention tips and information to members of the community. This liaison is maintained on an informal basis within the framework of the Neighborhood Watch group.
The ABC’s of Neighborhood Watch
You can form a Watch group around any geographical unit: a block, apartment, park, business area, public housing complex, or office. A few concerned residents, a community organization, or a law enforcement agency can spearhead the effort to organize a Neighborhood Watch. Any community resident can join – young or old, single or married, renter or homeowner.
Members learn how to make their homes more secure, watch out for each other and the neighborhood, and report activities that raise their suspicions to the police department. Watch groups are not vigilantes. They are extra eyes and ears for reporting crime and helping neighbors. Neighborhood Watch helps build pride and serves as a springboard for efforts that address community concerns such as recreation for youth, child care, and affordable housing.
When a group decides to form a Neighborhood Watch, it:
Contacts the police department or local crime prevention organization for help in training members in home security and reporting skills and for information on local crime patterns
Selects a coordinator and block captains who are responsible for organizing meetings and relaying information to members
Recruits members, keeps up-to-date on new residents and makes special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and young people
Works with local government and law enforcement to put up Neighborhood Watch signs, usually after at least 50 percent of all households in a neighborhood are enrolled
What Neighborhood Watch Members Look For
Someone screaming or shouting for help.
Someone looking into windows and parked cars.
Property being taken out of houses where no one is at home or a business is closed.
Cars, vans, or trucks moving slowly with no apparent destination, or without lights.
Anyone being forced into a vehicle.
A stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child.
“Report these incidents to the police department. Talk about the problem with your neighbors.”
How to Report
Give your name and address.
Briefly describe the event – what happened, when, where, and who was involved.
Describe the suspect: sex and race, age, height, weight, hair color, clothing, distinctive characteristics such as beard, mustache, scars, tattoos or accent.
Describe the vehicle if one was involved: color, make, model, year, license plate, and special features such as stickers, dents, or decals.
Keeping Your Neighborhood Watch Alive
It’s an unfortunate fact that when a neighborhood crime crisis goes away, so does enthusiasm for Neighborhood Watch. Work to keep your Watch group a vital force for community well-being.
Organize regular meetings that focus on current issues such as drug abuse, “hate” or bias-motivated violence, crime in schools, child care before and after school, recreational activities for young people, and victim services.
Organize community patrols to walk around streets or apartment complexes and alert police to crime and suspicious activities and identify problems needing attention.
Adopt a park or school playground. Pick up litter, repair broken equipment, paint over graffiti.
Work with local building code officials to require dead bolt locks, smoke alarms, and other safety devices in new and existing homes and commercial buildings.
Publish a newsletter that gives prevention tips and local crime news, recognizes residents of all ages who have “made a difference,” and highlights community events.
Don’t forget social events that give neighbors a chance to know each other – a block party, potluck dinner, volleyball or softball game, picnic.