By Georgine Wallace
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) held its annual awards meeting on March 19 and honored Southwest resident Elizabeth Hoopes as Citizen Volunteer Corps Member of the year. Hoopes was recognized for her three years of service with the office of Volunteer Coordination’s Community Engagement Academy. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk about her work with MPD.
What is the Community Engagement Academy?
Since 2015, MPD has held a Community Engagement Academy (CEA) for residents of the District and community leaders to gain insight into the operations and functions of MPD. Over the period of eight weeks, participants join discussions and presentations on recruiting, policing scenarios and challenges, juvenile issues and youth investigations, specialized policing units, use of force and scenario training, race and policing in Washington, DC, and more. The goal is to provide participants with insight into the challenges that officers are confronted with on a daily basis. Over 200 community members from all seven police districts have completed the program.
What is the Volunteer Corps?
The Volunteer Corps provides community members an opportunity to assist with the daily operations of the Metropolitan Police Department. The Department uses the services of volunteers wherever possible to increase community members’ exposure to the operations of the Department and to benefit from the skills and abilities they may contribute. Volunteers serve as knowledgeable ambassadors to and of the communities they represent, thus strengthening the Department’s community relationships. The Office of Volunteer Coordination manages the Reserve Corps, the Volunteer Corps, the Collegiate Internship Program, the Community Engagement Academy and the Ride-Along Program.
What kinds of projects have you worked on?
I have participated as a scenario actor in the reserve recruit final scenarios; assisted at the Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Alliance conference; performed a three year audit of reported stolen firearms; and provided assistance at the annual awards ceremony.
What made you commit to the Volunteer Corps and CEA?
After completing my CEA class in 2016, I learned about volunteer opportunities at MPD. Since the CEA provided me with new insight into MPD’s operations—and I met wonderful people—I wanted to continue my “education” by volunteering to assist in future CEA sessions.
What aspects of MPD surprise you as you work with them?
What surprised me most, and still does, is the one-on-one partnerships that police officers have with our city’s youth. There is an entire department devoted to our city’s youth and their families. Maybe it’s just showing up at a library for story time or participating in programs such as Youth Creating Change—the officers are out there but they don’t get the five o’clock headline. The second surprise is the robust Special Liaison Branch that focuses on our diverse population such as the Asian Liaison Unit, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit, African Affairs Unit, or the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Unit, to name a few. The Special Liaison Branch has almost 200 full time officers. DC is unique in having officers specifically trained in helping certain demographics.
What does winning the award mean to you?
It is an incredible honor to be recognized by the Metropolitan Police Department. Receiving this award along with other civilian and sworn members of the Metropolitan Police Department makes me proud of our city and to be associated with those who work every day to protect us.
Any final thoughts?
So far I’ve worked with three incredibly talented and passionate civilian professionals who run the Office of Volunteer Coordination. With their hard work and dedication, the program has grown and tapped into each district and ward for citizens who want to make their city a better place.