EPISD Police Chief Victor Araiza last week attended the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in Washington D.C. — an invitation extended to only one other school district police department in the country.
The task force was created to strengthen community policing and trust among peace officers and the communities they serve. Law enforcement officials, technical advisors, youth and community leaders and non-governmental organizations joined in the conversation.
Araiza was invited to attend by the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs — something he attributed to
the department’s community involvement and solid reputation.
“I believe this invitation stems from our work in obtaining the School Based Law Enforcement Award of Excellence in 2015 and receiving Texas School Safety Certification from the Texas School Safety Task Force,” Araiza said. “This reflects the collaborative effort that EPISD and Police Services have with the community we serve.”
Araiza provided input on the work EPISD police officers do to ensure the safety of students, as well as building community trust.
“We work for the most influential members of our community: our youth,” Araiza said. “Law enforcement officers play a significant role in developing relationships with students. EPISD police officers act as mentors and liaisons between the school community and the justice system.”
“It was a great honor to represent the District and my profession,” Araiza said. “Networking with White House staff and my peers will prove to be invaluable asset to our professional growth. The experience re-iterated the simple fact that as law enforcement officials we have an enormous responsibility to work with our minority youth and rebuild trust in the police.”
Araiza will share the concepts he learned in Washington D.C. with his officers.
“I believe forming focus groups on what expectations youth have of law enforcement would give them a voice and help us to explain law enforcement actions good or bad,” he said. “Any relationship boils down to communication and understanding of each group or individual perspective. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”