Trending Topics

‘Making it Better in Las Vegas’: How a children’s book is building police-community relations

The book was inspired by a desire to build foundational trust between the community and law enforcement from an early age

IMG_4823.jpeg

Chief Jason Potts (third from left) and Andre Lewis (far right) are pictured during a book reading event.

By Police1 Staff

In an innovative move to foster stronger ties between law enforcement and community members, the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with children’s book author Andre Lewis and the Youth Development and Social Initiatives Department, has launched a unique children’s book initiative targeted at third graders.

1682966996605.jpg

The book, titled “Making it Better in Las Vegas,” features local marshal vehicles, patches and officers, and is designed to strengthen community ties and foster a positive image of law enforcement among young students.

This initiative — part of a broader strategy to integrate community engagement into the core activities of the department — not only seeks to educate young minds about the roles and responsibilities of police officers but also to cultivate a foundation of trust and understanding between young citizens and law enforcement professionals.

Police1 recently sat down with City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety Chief Jason Potts to learn more about this initiative.

What inspired the creation of this book and what is its main narrative?

The book was inspired by a desire to build foundational trust between the community and law enforcement from an early age. Its story revolves around two children who engage with a police officer during a community cleanup at a local park, mirroring the real-life community involvement of the police department. The narrative reflects the everyday realities and positive interactions with officers, much like those experienced by officers participating in activities like the Police Activities League.

How was the book received during its launch at Ernest May Elementary School?

The book launch was met with enthusiastic reception. Over 100 children at Ernest May Elementary School, named after the first Las Vegas police officer killed in the line of duty, were given copies. This event not only distributed the book but also highlighted the longstanding and deep-rooted connection between the city’s history and its current law enforcement efforts.

What are the broader goals of this literary project beyond the initial distribution?

The project is part of a larger strategy to enhance literacy and shape a positive perception of police from a young age. By investing in 1,000 books, the department ensures each third-grade student can own a copy, thus broadening their understanding of law enforcement roles and responsibilities. The initiative also includes plans to expand book distribution across other wards and potentially increase the print run through grants.

IMG_1167.jpeg

Through such initiatives, the Las Vegas Department of Public Safety is setting a new standard for how law enforcement agencies can positively impact young minds and contribute to a safer, more unified community.

What long-term impacts does the department hope to achieve with this initiative?

Long term the department aims to deposit what we call “credibility currency” with young people, educators and parents, fostering enduring relationships and trust. The book’s primary aim is to humanize police officers, making them more accessible and less intimidating to young children. It educates them about the crucial roles police play in the community, the importance of obeying laws, how to confront potential emergencies, and how to interact safely with strangers.

Engagement with children at this formative age is deemed crucial for various reasons. It establishes a foundation for safety education, builds trust, and may even deter future criminal behavior. Moreover, early positive interactions with law enforcement can influence broader community perceptions, promote diversity and inclusion, and even inspire some children to consider careers in law enforcement or public service.

How has the initiative been promoted and what future plans are there to enhance its visibility and impact?

The book and its objectives gained further exposure through an episode of “Access City Council” on KCLV, hosted by David Riggleman and Councilmember Francis Palenske. Plans are underway to continue expanding the book’s reach to ensure it impacts nearly every third grader in the city’s school district, reinforcing the community-centric mission of the Las Vegas Department of Public Safety.

Looking for ways to incorporate your community with your cops? Check out the “Cops-n-Bobbers” event in Plover, Wisconsin! This annual youth fishing outing, co-hosted by local police departments, brings kids and officers together for a day of fishing and fun. Over 200 kids and their parents enjoyed positive interactions with law enforcement, learning about fishing and building lasting connections. Events like these foster trust and understanding between police and the community.

What would you like other police departments to know about this project?

“Making it Better in Las Vegas” book is far more than mere reading material; it represents a strategic, community-centric tool that aims to enhance our brand while building trust, confidence and legitimacy with our youth, parents and educators. It embodies a comprehensive approach to law enforcement that transcends traditional crime prevention, focusing instead on education, engagement and the building of relationships, friendships, and partnerships. Through such initiatives, the Las Vegas Department of Public Safety is setting a new standard for how law enforcement agencies can positively impact young minds and contribute to a safer, more unified community.

Any law department can contact Andre Lewis, the author, at alewis@literaryengineers.com or 901/270-3007 to discuss how they can duplicate this wonderful experience, get their customized version of the book, and start improving the relationship between law enforcement and children in their community.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU