The Task Force on 21st Century Policing provides recommendations for rebuilding trust and including community stakeholders to promote a safer community for all. Some highlights include: connecting with youth in order to develop trust, and building legitimacy.
Guest Blogger: Officer Amber Ross, Louisville (KY) Metro Police Department, Community Policing Unit
Upon my 2013 graduation from the Louisville Metro Police Academy in Kentucky, I noticed when I responded to calls, they typically involved boys and men. However, I also observed girls in the background, almost unseen. These young girls reminded me of myself in younger days. I sought to help them; to let these girls know they can be successful. I created No Girl Lost as a safe space for girls to come after school, I mentor them and create a comfortable space for them to work on bettering themselves. No Girl Lost, was named because I wanted every girl to know that they don’t need to be lost or alone in their struggles.
No Girl Lost meetings are held at local schools where the girls feel more comfortable. I ask school counselors to refer the girls struggling with behavioral issues, communication, home life, grades, and/or attitudes. In its inaugural year, the program impacted 115 girls. During the 2016-2017 school year, I worked with 80 girls in six different schools. The program has been so successful that girls who have been in it for a year now are helping recruit others in need. Some girls have even set-up booths in their school common areas to talk to potential participants about why they should come to No Girl Lost and how much it has changed their lives.
I start by telling the girls my story; the struggles I faced as a young girl and in my early adult life. I was raised by a single mom, my father was in a penitentiary, and I became a single mom myself. In the face of everything, I refused to become a statistic. I graduated from college in May 2012 and the police academy in August 2013. Sharing my story helps girls relate and connect with me, they see who I have become despite my situation.
I ask each girl to define herself. It can be heartbreaking to hear how these girls wish they looked prettier or had a normal home life, and in turn how they see that as defining them. I ask these personal questions because it is typically the first time these girls have been challenged to get in tune with themselves. These are emotional conversations. No Girl Lost provides each girl with a journal, to serve as an outlet to express themselves in a safe space.
At the end of the school year I throw a dance for all the girls in the No Girl Lost program. It is my way of showing them appreciation and gratitude for all the hard work they have done. As a result of the program, many of the girls have improved grades, family connections, and attitudes. The dance is a fun time. We bring in a DJ, eat pizza, and give out donated prizes. This is all about showing them they can be successful and that their struggles don’t limit them.
On Friday September 29th, 2017, I received the 2017 Break Thru Guru award for No Girl Lost. This award is presented by the Louisville Metro Government to an employee who implements an innovative way to deliver excellent services which make Louisville Metro a better place to work, live or visit.
Want to know more about No Girl Lost, Officer Amber Ross, and the Louisville Metro Police Department?
- Follow the Louisville Metro Police Department on Facebook or Twitter for updates about No Girl Lost and Officer Amber Ross.
- Visit the Louisville Metro Police Department
This blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in advancing 21st century policing as part of the IACP Institute for Community-Police Relations. Louisville is one of fifteen sites selected for participation in the Advancing 21st Century Policing Initiative, a joint project of the COPS Office, CNA, and the IACP to highlight agencies who are actively embracing the principles in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.