Agency being nominated
Tye Police Department
What organization / program will receive the award funds
Operation Brown Bag
Tell us about how this agency has made an impact in the community. Has this agency been working on a specific community project- or have goals to complete one? Please be detailed.
The Tye Police Department has been committed to the community and fully vested in the children of this City since 2016. It all began in 2014. An officer on patrol witnessed a child digging for food out of a dumpster at a local truck stop. The Officer contacted the child and discovered that when school was in session, he was provided breakfast and lunch; however, during the summer months, he often went without meals. During his time at the department, the officer made sure this child never went without food.
Returning to the department in 2016, as Chief of Police, the officer made a pledge that no child in the city would go hungry. In keeping that promise, the Chief spoke to the local Baptist Church about children within their community. He asked a simple question, “What do the kids in this community eat when school is not in session?” Truth is, the never really thought about it.
The City of Tye is a disadvantaged community where more than 75 percent of all children in are on the free breakfast and lunch program. With that, the Chief challenged them to feed every child when school was not in session. The Pastor took up a special collection. The next day the Pastor called and said the church members were so moved they raised a $1500 to start feeding the children.
The Officers and their family members went to work immediately to feed the children of their city whenever school was not in session. Their mission was simple – let no child go hungry. Beginning with an application process to be certain all families in need were served, food allergies identified, and access to refrigeration was available. The program started feeding 17 children breakfast and lunch during school vacations, holidays and weekends. To date the program feeds 55 children when school breakfast and lunches are not available.
Seeing the needs of children and parents in the community, the department teamed up with their family members to form a nonprofit 501c3 -- Operation Brown Bag. This grassroots effort to provide meals is based solely on community donations. The Police Department and Operation Brown Bag team up three times a week to ensure all children in our community are fed and set up for success. As of today, over 25,000 meals have been prepared and delivered to children and senior citizens in the City of Tye.
To help with the effort, early on, the Tye City Council voted a resolution that enabled Police Officers to deliver these meals in patrol vehicles. This resolution allowed Officers to connect with the community on a whole different level. Child Protection Service calls dropped by 43 percent. The Police and the community have a different relationship. The community knows their officers; the children know they can go to the Police if they have a problem or if they need something not just in a time of trouble. All this has changed the face of our community. All Officers are fully vested in their community.
By caring for the littlest citizens of Tye, other needs were realized. The program grew to provide a hot meal with transportation provided to the community center where the children watched a movie, played games and did arts and crafts. Through the partnership of giving community, the Tye Police Department started a school supplies program provided all school supplies necessary to ensure a successful school year.
Recognizing the limited opportunities for outdoor activities and fun, the Department started the annual Back to School Bash. Through community donations and support, the bash is a celebration as well as an opportunity for families to enjoy free food, music, water slides and games. This is also an opportunity for families to pick up the fully stocked backpacks for their children, provided by Operation Brown Bag. This year is extra special as a local hairstylist offered to provide free haircuts to all our school age children.
For Christmas, the Police Department again, partnered with Operation Brown Bag to establish Operation Blue Santa. This program is to provide a Christmas for the children of Operation Brown Bag that might not experience the true joys of the season. To date, Operation Blue Santa has provided over 300 children with Christmas Joy since Operation Brown Bag was founded in 2017.
Like many communities, COVID-19 presented some major challenges. When the local school district shut down, our children, who were recipients of the free breakfast and lunch program, were without nutrition. Our parents were not able to drive to the school district to pick up meals. Operation Brown Bag and the Police Department stepped up to make breakfast and lunch meals for all school age children in Tye. During this time another shortfall in the community was discovered -- our shut in Seniors. The Department reached out to Operation Brown Bag, and with a simple change in the bylaws, the needs of our seniors were met during a time when no one could get to the store to get needed supplies.
The relationship with the children in the community has spurred more fun and involvement. The Report Card program is an incentive where if a child gets all A or B's on their report card, no Cs allowed because they are better than just average, they get to pick the restaurant of their choice and are treated at the expense of the Police Department.
Partnered with Operation Brown Bag, the department provides winter coats, socks and shoes for our school age children. In coordination with the Texas Tech School of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Health, a free flu vaccination clinic is offered on an annual basis complete with goodie bags and pizza!
This extraordinary display of community policing is what defines the Tye Police Department. They have taken responsibility – that is they responded to a need, and have the ability to follow through with it. This amazing team deserves and exemplifies the true meaning of the RISE Awards.