California Police Chief- Fall 2013 CPCA_2019_Spring Magazine- FINAL - Page 14

BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS: New One-to-One Youth Mentoring Program Strengthens Community Relations By Corey S. Sianez, MPA, Chief of Police, Buena Park Police Department The past decade has proven difficult for police agencies across America to fulfill their mission of enforcing the law and fostering positive relationships with the communities they serve. On a national and local level, both television and social media accounts of police misconduct have furthered the distrust between police and the citizens they serve. This lack of trust makes the already difficult task of serving the community more problematic for police officers. Furthermore, as community members’ trust in their police erodes, so does the agency’s ability to solve crime, improve quality of life, and recruit future officers. The Buena Park Police Department has worked diligently to find opportunities to engage its community in a positive way and build those lasting relationships that are needed to have a safe city. The department consulted and surveyed the community to find out what citizens wanted for their police department. Overwhelmingly, people wanted the police to interact with children in a positive manner. Based on these results, department leadership developed a five-year strategic plan with youth outreach identified as a metric to gauge the organization’s success in its community engagement mission. In 2018, Buena Park Police Department partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland 14 California Police Chief | Empire to make this desire for youth engagement a reality. Known for its one-to-one youth mentoring programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters worked with Buena Park Police Department to launch its nationally recognized Bigs with Badges initiative at the local middle school. In its pilot year locally, the program matched seventh-grade students with sworn and non-sworn personnel for monthly 90-minute mentoring sessions. A facilitated curriculum focuses on productive topics like academic achievement and career exploration, all while allowing each match to build a strong and enduring friendship. Youth participants include students like Jacob, who is 12 years old and has never met his father. Big Brothers Big