Amigos En Azul prepares for annual Christmas community service

Amigos En Azul, Austin Police Department’s Hispanic community outreach program, is preparing for their annual event ‘Shop with a Cop,’ which provides about 50 local Hispanic elementary school students the opportunity to go Christmas shopping with an Austin Police Officer using funds provided by the organization. The students are selected by their schools based on need. The ‘Shop with a Cop’ program, along with others from the organization, have provided an excellent example of minority outreach by APD, bridging the gap to a population that is underserved. When asked about Amigos’ impact on the community, Senior Police Officer Luis Delgado III, Amigos’ President and 19 year member, had this to say:

The noticeable reaction from the community comes from various organizations and community leaders who have taken notice of our endeavors. So much so, that when the State Department questioned community leaders about which organizations were making a positive impact on the Hispanic community, our organization was consistently mentioned.

Amigos En Azul, or Friends in Blue, was founded in 1982 and has grown to include approximately 455 members, mostly Austin Police Officers. In addition to the Shop with a Cop program, Amigos En Azul provides scholarships to local high school students, encourages the consideration of Law Enforcement careers, and participates in numerous APD community outreach programs. Amigos En Azul has provided over $60,000 in scholarships to Hispanic students since the program began. Amigos’ funds are primarily provided by membership dues, the organization’s annual golf tournament, and support from Target, as well as local businesses.

I would like to close by saying that this is a personal endeavor taken up by the board, on their own personal time. We manage, coordinate, execute all our events on our off time. We do this after working our 40 hours in our assignments. But what I have found is that our active board members work not for the accolades or recognition, but to truly make a difference within our community.

       –  Senior Police Officer Luis Delgado III

While SPO Delgado and the rest of the Amigos En Azul board do not work for recognition, their efforts merit a great deal of respect and appreciation from the citizens of Austin.

This year’s date for Shop with a Cop is December 19th, 2013.

For more information on Amigos En Azul, please visit the Austin Police Department’s Amigos En Azul web page, located here.

Showin’ the Love to Our DRs

Citizens from all around Austin showed support for their APD District Representatives (DRs) in October by contacting City Council members to tell the Council that they did not want their DRs to be taken from their neighborhoods to work the downtown trails through the remainder of the pilot program. The Council had months earlier established trails open 24 hours/7 days for bicyclists and pedestrians in/near the downtown area requiring policing every day all day, but overtime pay was not provided. Because the council for many years has not approved budget funds to allow for adequate police staffing in Austin, APD had to pull officers in different units from around the city to patrol those areas, leaving fewer in areas which need their assigned officers.

Stats were collected showing that trail usage was an average of about 13 people each night. When citizens learned of this extremely low usage and that the DR officers in their neighborhoods who provide critically needed community policing services would continue to be pulled to work the trails . . . they took action. The Council was flooded with hundreds of phone calls and emails from around the city telling them how important the DRs are to the neighborhoods, how their services are vital to help neighbors, and that the citizens wanted to keep their DRs rather than having them pulled to work on different tasks. The Council responded by reinstating the curfew on the trails and APD agreed to allow the DRs to stay in their sectors. This situation demonstrated to the Council and APD the value that citizens place on the work done by their DRs, the benefits of community policing services they provide, and the esteem and respect citizens have for their District Reps. And a side benefit was that the DRs were assured that the residents of the areas where they work appreciate their efforts and believe in the services they provide.

For more information about APD’s District Representatives program, please follow this link.