Police-community relations


By Tracy Miller
Orange County (CA) Assistant District Attorney

Every day police officers risk their lives to keep our communities safe. Unfortunately, law enforcement’s heroic efforts are often not recognized by local communities.  One way we are building stronger community relationships with law enforcement and highlighting their outstanding work is through an innovative program, OC GRIP.

OC GRIP (Orange County Gang Reduction & Intervention Partnership) shows the community the great work of local police officers, while focusing on preventing minors from joining a criminal street gang. OC Grip has more than 300 partners in 13 cities in Southern California. These partners include police and probation departments, private businesses and non-profit and faith-based organizations.

For over 10 years, through OC GRIP, we have had great success in inspiring children to resist participating in gangs, while improving the community’s relationship with law enforcement.

One of our original partners is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In the first year of the partnership, we took 200 students to see an MLB game with exclusive access to batting practice. This year, we took 2,000 students. Over 250 police officers attended to supervise and interact with the at-risk students. This event is an amazing opportunity for students who have never been to a major league ballpark and each of the students earned the right to attend the game by improving their attendance, academics and attitude.

Recently, we partnered with Blizzard Entertainment – the world’s largest gaming company to provide mentorship to at-risk youth.  Blizzard employees and the officers work together to show the students the benefits of receiving an education and to expose them to exciting career possibilities.

The OC GRIP program has dramatically increased student attendance, reduced school suspensions and expulsions, empowered parents and given thousands of at-risk students hope and resources for success. This program creates a stronger and more positive relationship between law enforcement and the community.

Tips to start a gang-prevention program in your community:

  1. Law enforcement leadership and participation ensures the success of the program. 
  2. The program is an all-encompassing approach focusing on students, parents and school staff.
  3. Parents must be held accountable for providing their children with the opportunity to receive an education and live a crime free life.
  4. Involve every part of the community to participate in the program and to take responsibility for reducing gang crime.
  5. Empower the community to be partners with local law enforcement.

When the community supports law enforcement and takes responsibility for the safety of its members, our entire society benefits.

 

Tracy Miller, who is an assistant district attorney with the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office, received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University and her Juris Doctorate degree from Southwestern University School of Law. She was the recipient of the Orange Police Department’s Civilian Medal of Honor Award and the 2013 Orange County Department of Education’s Community Service Award. She has prosecuted thousands of cases and throughout her career she prosecuted the first gang injunction case in Orange County. She currently supervises 33 attorneys, investigators and community advocates.

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