Broken Arrow police officer wins national community policing award
Source: Broken Arrow Police Department
The Broken Arrow Police Department and officer Michael Peale are celebrating after Peale was selected as the winner for the 6th annual Attorney Generals Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing.
It marks the highest national award the department has received in its history, BAPD said Monday.
“It’s humbling to be honored in this way, but I’m most excited to bring recognition to Broken Arrow and the incredible things happening in our city,” Peale said in a statment.
The award is in recognition of the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy in Spanish created by Peale, who does not speak Spanish but nevertheless took on the project.
About 13% of the city’s 119,000 residents are Spanish speaking. Chief Brandon Berryhill tasked Peale with creating and coordinating the academy in 2019 to help build partnerships and increase the communication and comfort level between the Spanish-speaking residents and the police department.
Peale enlisted more than 20 officers and various department personnel to assist with instructing and translation services. Officer Melissa Medrano and former BAPD dispatcher Leo Sanchez were the primary verbal and instructional material translators during the academy.
The 8-week program is designed to give Spanish speaking residents a better understanding of how the police department operates while incorporating hands-on exercises to put the students in the shoes of the officers.
To measure effectiveness of the program, the department analyzed crime statistics for predominately Spanish-speaking areas throughout the city. Since the start of the Citizens Police Academy in Spanish, Berryhill says the department has seen an increase in the reporting of minor crimes and a decrease in violent crimes in predominately Spanish communities.
Peale realized Broken Arrow’s department and many surrounding agencies didn’t have any programs designed specifically to interact with Spanish-speaking communities and felt “and felt the need reach out to all the people we serve,” Berryhill said.