Arlington Police Department Wins State Award for ‘Bridge Kids’ Program

The Arlington Police Department was presented with the 2018 Texas Municipal League Excellence Award for The Bridge Kids project in the Public Safety Category. The department received the award on Wednesday, October 10 at the TML Municipal Excellence Award Presentation in Fort Worth at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

The Bridge Kids is an initiative the Arlington Police Department started in 2016 to help kids at a nearby elementary school get home safely crossing over a pedestrian bridge. Parents and neighbors were concerned about juvenile delinquent behavior and bullying of kids near the bridge. The APD met with community members and the school administration to develop a comprehensive plan to address the problems.

The school staff would walk with the kids to the edge of campus where officers would be waiting. The officers would then walk and talk with the kids as they crossed the bridge into their neighborhoods safely. The APD also began engaging with the children through presentations at the school that included anti-bullying messages and career planning.

The department engaged community support with the apartment complex management near the bridge and organized a summer tutoring program with volunteers from the school. As the program continued to flourish, the department organized a Daddy-Daughter dance around Valentine’s Day, which has now become an annual tradition. The community wanted to address graffiti concerns in the culvert that the bridge crossed over. Officers and citizens joined forces on a weekend to paint different murals that covered the graffiti.

The elementary school administration has credited the Bridge Kids program with an increase in academic achievements, positive classroom environments and improved behavior for the students. The program continues to thrive as officers walk the students home from school each day.