DUNCANVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – For Duncanville ISD Police Sgt. Mitchell Lambert, every time he gets in the squad car he reflects on the uniqueness of his job.
He says, “I think this is what? The second largest school in the country… full capacity… we got around 42 or 43 hundred kids. So, in that aspect, we’re kind of everywhere.”READ MORE: Texas Woman Sues Oral Surgeon After Metal Drill Bit Left Inside Her Jaw
This year, the Duncanville ISD Police Department created the Panther 5.0 Program. It’s designed to encourage positive interaction between law enforcement and student athletes.
Lambert has adopted the school’s baseball team.
Duncanville outfielder Michael Montemayor admits, “Initially I was confused that we were gonna have an officer watch over us. I didn’t know if we had to be watched because we were in trouble or something.”
Based on recent events in this country, extreme distrust has only grown between many minority communities and law enforcement.
Duncanville head coach Scott Fahey says, “Our young men and young women were seeing that on TV play out in front of them.”
Montemayor says, “People that I’ve grown up with have all given me an experience on traffic stops and how ruthless some of them are.”
Lambert is aware “the public doesn’t trust an officer and I understand what’s out there is a lot of negative but there’s also a lot of positive.”
While there’s no way to wipe away all the heartache and pain of the past, there is a way to work on the future. Opening the dialogue and creating a trust factor has already been a big hit.READ MORE: Southeast Alliance Community Care Team To Address Public Mental Health Response Needs
Fahey says, “We’re definitely in a time where kids need all the help they can get in the mental aspect.”
Lambert has become another coach, mentor, cheerleader and friend. He is someone who will go to bat for all these young men which has definitely played a role in their mindset.
Duncanville third baseman Jonathan Alvarado has learned “Don’t judge an officer because there’s stuff going on around the world. Get to know them.”
There’s no disputing the fact that there’s a gap that needs to be bridged in this country. And it’s programs like these that can certainly help pave the way.
Lambert insists, “We have to break those barriers. We have to. This type of relationship with the community is possible.”
And if it can happen here, who’s to say it can’t happen everywhere? Montemayor says “Officer Lambert shows how they can be someone that cares about you and someone you put your trust in.”
Lambert says, “I try to instill in their life that I will be here. A police officer, such as myself, will be here for you in a positive way.”
And just maybe, there will come a day when we all can stop keeping score and truly be on the same team.MORE NEWS: After Rise In Auto Thefts, Tarrant County Cracking Down On Car Thieves
Alvarado says “We win together and we lose together.” Ultimately, the way it should be.