NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In Arlington, bridging the gap between police and the communities they serve starts on school grounds.
Police Sergeant Brian Jones and the “Coach 5-0″ program are connecting with student athletes at Martin High School.
“They’re high school kids so they push me a lot,” says Sgt. Jones, lifting weights in the school’s athletics facility.
Jones, a part of Arlington homicide, is in the weight room every week, working out with the Martin Warriors – no uniform in sight.
“I’m just showing them a different side of policing that they may not see,” Sgt. Jones says.
Through the Coach 5-0 program, more than 40 Arlington police officers mentor student athletes on the level they know best: sports.
“I took one look at Sgt. Jones and realized he liked to spend time in the weight room, and we like to spend time in the weight room so that’s really where it began, said head football Coach Bob Wager.
Wager says Jones is an easy fit to connect with young men. “There was a time five years ago that we had players in our program – we had kids in our school – who were afraid of police, and not for the same reason that I was afraid of the police when I was 15 or 16 years old.”
Jones uses his own life experience as a former high school and collegiate football player to help build a culture of trust.
“Brian Jones can reach kids in a different way than I can,” Wager said. “He looks different than me. What he does on a daily basis is different than me. What he sees on a daily basis is completely different than the things that I see and so we work together as a team.”
On or off the field, success takes time, repetition, and hard work.
“A couple of classes back, I had several team players come up and say they want to be police officers in the future,” says Sgt. Jones.
Jones believes the Coach 5-0 program is a win. “If you reach one kid, it’s well worth it. You may not see it pay out until three, four, five years from now, but I think we are doing good work,” he said.
The Coach 5-0 program has gained statewide recognition. Sgt. Jones sees it as a blueprint for other cities across Texas to use to bridge the gap in policing and community.