Sixteen Dallas police officers and 16 Dallas citizens from Districts 3 and 8 sealed their legacy Tuesday, August 8, 2017, as the first cohort to graduate from the Community Leadership Academy (CLA), hosted by UNT Dallas’ Urban SERCH Institute.

Funded by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, CLA is the first comprehensive leadership training program to place citizens and officers as peers within a cohort (unlike many community policing efforts which are often led by law enforcement agencies). CLA’s philosophy, “Humanity is the Core of Leadership,” aims to build leadership competencies within the community, and trust between our citizens and police officers.

The program consisted of two cohorts, each with eight officers from Dallas Police Department and Dallas Independent School District’s Police Department, and eight community members from Districts 3 and 8 who met bi-weekly from May 22-July 27, 2017 to learn, practice, reflect, and apply knowledge in six key areas:  

  • Empathetic Decision Making
  • Multiculturalism and Cultural Humility
  • Developing Social Capital and Consensus Building
  • Citizen Engagement Strategies
  • Conflict Resolution and Restorative Practices
  • Communication in the Community

Each cohort was further divided into groups of four, with each group collaborating on a community-based project in the districts where they live and serve. Projects focused on topics such as childhood obesity, community connectedness, and resources for senior citizens.

The program’s 32 inaugural graduates include:

Cohort A

Mrs. Jeanette Berry
Ms. Gail Terrell
Officer Derrick Anderson
Mr. Daylon Grandberry
Officer Noemy Leyva
Ms. Alendra Lyons
Ms. Shay Cathey
Officer Tiffany Williams
Senior Corporal Fredrick Patterson
Ms. Mollie Sanders
Ms. Evelyn Davis
Police Officer Amber Roman
Senior Corporal Karlon Bedford
Ms. Pat Ford
Mr. Gary Brown
Senior Corporal Aarin Harrell
Major Latoya Porter

Cohort B

Ms. Lavida Barentine
Ms. Terre Sharp
Officer Daylon Grandberry
Officer April McLeod
Ms. MaCara Santiago
Michale Smotherman
Officer Bernadino Ledezma
Lieutenant David Jones
Ms. Sandra Alridge
Pastor Rayford Butler
Officer Victoria Tsalikis
Lieutenant Juan Cedillo
Ms. Clarice Criss
Ms. Beatriz Velasquez
Sergeant Anthony Martin
Deputy Chief Albert Martinez

 “CLA is not the magic pill to stop the corrosive impact of negative police-citizen interactions permanently,” said Dr. Larry Terry, director of the UNT Dallas Urban SERCH Institute. “However, through this humanity-driven leadership experience, we hope to contribute to changing the narrative and behavior of both police and citizens alike, where despair is replaced with hope, fragmentation is replaced with cohesion, confusion is replaced with strategy, and judgment is replaced with empathy and understanding.”

The program has recently caught the attention of civic leaders nationwide who are keen on expanding the program, and building a stronger communities. For more information on this potential future expansion, contact Dr. Larry Terry, director of the UNT Dallas Urban SERCH Institute at

Photos from the event are available at