ARLINGTON - A program putting officers with junior high students in Arlington is not only helping shape young lives but is also getting nation-wide recognition.
It’s all thanks to this picture of an Arlington police officer teaching a boy how to tie a tie. The picture was one of 12 winners in a nationwide photo contest held by the justice department.
The Arlington Police Department knew the program had promise. But not only are they seeing success in the young men who are in it, now they can say it's truly award winning.
14-year-old Isaiah Austin just embarked on one of the best parts of the Mentoring Arlington Youth Program: the ride along.
The program is about a year-and-a-half old. Officers and students with Workman Junior High meet several weeks after school and even on weekends.
"Today we talked about how to be a man, and the program works,” Isaiah said. “We go on trips to find out how different jobs are like."
The program just got national recognition from the Department of Justice all because of a photo showing Isaiah and Corporal Damian Gary.
"That day, we went to the men's shop off of Abram Street,” Gary explained.
The officer said it was a lesson that day on dressing for success.
"I saw one young man struggling how to tie a tie and thought well my uncle showed me how to tie a tie. I might be able to show him how to tie a tie,” Gary said.
The picture was chosen by the DOJ as one of 12 winners in its Community Policing in Action photo contest. Corporal Gary says the award is validation for the lives they are trying to change.
"A lot of the guys didn't have a role model in their life before, and it kind of helped to guide them in the right direction and help him prepare to have better grades and to be a better role model for other people in their household,” he said.
"It changed a lot a part of me,” Isaiah said. “And if I wasn't here, I probably would be somewhere else."