Partnership Builds Police, Community Relationships
To build relationships between law enforcement and their communities, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles is engaging the Los Angeles Police Department in its mentorship program.
To connect law enforcement with their communities through mentorship relationships, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (BBBSLA) has partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
The partnership is part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s (BBBSA) national “Bigs in Blue” program, announced in November, which hopes to help bridge the gap between police and their communities.
“Our mission is not political, but what we do every day opens minds, changes perspectives, and helps people to understand one another,” BBBSLA CEO Tiffany Siart said. “And so if we can work more directly with law enforcement to bring law enforcement, police in relationship with the children of the families in the communities that they serve, it will have a really positive effect on those two people, as well as those families and, over time, hopefully those communities.”
BBBSLA pairs struggling children from disadvantaged homes—namely those that are low-income or single-parent in unsafe neighborhoods—with community mentors to provide them support and consistency.
These relationships also “expose [the children] to different experiences, different people, different perspectives, and different opportunities in their lives to help them not only dream bigger but to achieve more in their lives,” Siart said.
BBBSLA’s five-year partnership with the LAPD will ensure that at least 20 law-enforcement personnel are volunteering to mentor children in the city each year. During those years, the two groups will reevaluate how the program is working and how to continue it in the future.
This year, the LA Rams are helping recruit LAPD volunteers. Efforts include dedicating its January 1 game to the program with on-field activations; having information in its magazine; donating 100 game tickets to BBBSLA; and developing a PSA with LAPD, players, and Rams Director of Player Engagement and former “Big” La’Roi Glover.
Siart explained that though the ultimate goal is empowering the children, mentors often learn just as much from the relationships. In the face of police-related violence and protests, this will give law enforcement further insight into the communities they serve.
“If you see a personal experience with someone in your community, you’re going to be better able to be responsive and better able to make decisions about how best to support that community,” Siart said.
Through a BBBSLA board member—who is a retired LAPD captain, former big sister, and president of the Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives—LA’s “Bigs in Blue” program has also garnered recruitment support from other law enforcement organizations, including ABLE, the Latin American Law Enforcement Association, and the Los Angeles Women Police Officers and Associates, among others.
“We cannot sit on the sidelines,” BBBSA President and CEO Pam Iorio said in a press release. “Many communities suffer from a growing tension between our youth and our law enforcement. As a former mayor, I saw firsthand the positive impact that came from law enforcement officers mentoring young people in Tampa.”