(Dallas, Texas) June 20, 2017—The UNT Dallas Urban SERCH Institute launched its first Community Leadership Academy (CLA) Monday, May 22, 2017 with a formal induction ceremony at UNT Dallas.

Funded by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, CLA is the first program of its kind in the country that pairs police officers with the community members they serve for an eight-week intensive leadership program. It is a program that the City of Dallas, Dallas Police Department, Dallas Independent School District Police, and other civic leaders are watching closely in hopes of expanding the program, and building a stronger community.

“CLA was created to improve police and community relations at a time when there is less trust, and more divisiveness,” said Dr. Larry Terry, director of the Urban SERCH Institute. “Humanity is the core of leadership, and we hope that this training will reinforce that message, bringing neighbors together in a new way that inspires hope, not hate.” 

The first CLA cohort includes 16 officers and 16 community members from Districts 3 and 8. Each member of the cohort pledged their commitment to each other, and their communities to close out the May 22 ceremony.

The CLA participants attend training sessions twice a week at locations throughout Dallas. The officers attend each session in plain clothes, without badges or firearms, in an attempt to emphasize humanity and community over rank and title. Each session has its own curriculum, and is taught by local experts. Session topics include:

  • 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

CLA will close out its first cohort Tuesday, August 8, 2017 with closing ceremonies to be held at Friendship West Baptist Church.

For more information on CLA or the Urban SERCH Institute, visit www.untdallas.edu/serch or email Larry.Terry@untdallas.edu.