Cops Laud Youngsters for ‘Do The Right Thing’ Success

Cops Laud Youngsters for ‘Do The Right Thing’ Success

By Stephen Owsinski

One of my favorite initiatives involving law enforcement agencies mentoring and awarding the success of youngsters is the “Do The Right Thing” program.

Many law enforcement entities have a hand in this positively constructive project.

No matter where in the nation, the primary mission is synonymous…

Per the pages of the Miami, Florida, police department: Do The Right Thing (DTRT) “is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that strives to recognize and reward Miami youths for their exemplary behavior, accomplishments, and good deeds through a unique partnership with the City of Miami Police Department and other participating law enforcement agencies.”

Incidentally, DTRT is a global initiative: “Do The Right Thing of Miami is the headquarters for the national and international program.”

From our brothers and sisters serving with the St. Louis County Police Department: “From traveling nurses, archeologists, secret agents, to dancers, small business owners, and police officers, these ‘Do The Right Thing’ winners have big goals! It was an honor to recognize them [recently] for the good work they’ve done in school and their communities. Keep up the good work students!”

In Southwest, Florida, “The Do The Right Thing program is a community-based initiative that brings the Naples Police Department together with our community, local businesses, local schools, community organizations, city recreational centers, and most importantly, our youth.

“The goal of this program is to reinforce exemplary behavior while helping to build self-esteem. It is also our intent to build bridges of trust throughout our community and to publicly thank our youth for their positive deeds and contributions to this community.”

The Hummelstown Borough, PA, police department succinctly cites a crucial tenet in its DTRT mission statement: “To generate positive interactions between members of the police department and the young persons in our community.”

My department had a chapter comprising a cadre of sworn officers and civilian police personnel who volunteered to keep tabs on the phenomenal attributes of kids and rolled out guidance as a mainstay ingredient toward personal enrichment for each youngster doing the right thing.

The premise is for cops to bolster youngsters’ lives and their potential career endeavors by instilling values and virtues of service and humanitarianism, ultimately helping shape future professionals concentrated in various professions. At its core are persona and selflessness.

Every month, recognition of stellar behavior and righteousness is lavished upon youth at ceremonies typically held in some governmental chamber such as City Hall or similar official venue.

There, law enforcement officers praise young recipients and grant DTRT awards symbolizing honor and nobility.

My department held DTRT ceremonies during every monthly city council meeting, whereby members of the public were in the audience, with winners being especially applauded and duly recognized by elected officials on the dais.

Given that DTRT is a police-initiated venture, we found quite a number of kids emphasizing interest in law enforcement careers, both sworn and non-sworn. And…there’s a built-in program for DTRT awardees who harbor aspirations in policing society…

“The Miami Police Department’s Do The Right Thing (DTRT) Program is in search of young adults between the ages of 18-22 interested in serving the community as police officers in honor of Senior Police Executive Angel Calzadilla, a beloved Miami Police officer who passed away in 2011 due to cystic fibrosis.

“Do The Right Thing, known for recognizing and rewarding Miami youth for their positive decisions, awards the scholarship to one young adult annually to cover tuition to attend the Miami Police Academy.”

Miami PD’s February 2022 figure “to cover tuition” stated that it is “up to $6,100 for the Miami Police Academy.”

For those who may have other career goals, the Punta Gorda, Florida, police department chapter offers college scholarships to high schoolers who were recognized for Do The Right Thing feats:

“Each year three seniors from each of the Charlotte County High Schools are awarded $1,000 scholarships by the Do The Right Thing organization. Students can apply through their career development teacher at their school.”

Although it varies among law enforcement agencies how they honor kids who are observed doing the right thing, the North Port, Florida, police department showers youngsters with bags of goodies, all sealed with police insignia.

(Photo courtesy of the North Port Police Department.)

In the Rochester, NY, police department’s DTRT program mission statement, I found a tidbit having to do with second chances, whereby kids who previously made bad choices are empowered by redemption by achieving “turn-around” results:

“The Do The Right Thing Award program has been part of the Rochester Police Department (RPD) since 1995. The goal of Do The Right Thing is to foster positive relationships between local law enforcement and youth in the community. The Do The Right Thing Award program recognizes youth for their bravery, courage and valor, such as volunteering, aiding law enforcement or other first responders, acts of heroism, leadership, and positive role model behavior.

(Photo courtesy of Do The Right Thing Rochester.) 

“The award distinguishes school-aged children who strive to make good choices, do well in school, give back to their community, or demonstrate a ‘turn-around’ or improvement in their behavior, and to publicly highlight these students and their stories in the news and social media to show that good kids are newsworthy.”

Besides other police entities nurturing a DTRT chapter, partnerships (mentioned bove) include respective area schools and teachers/faculty overseeing physical projects innovated by the respective students.

The Miami Do The Right Thing chapter posts selectees posing with their DTRT awards, the student’s school name, and what feat(s) they’ve accomplished for the betterment of a demographic or society as a whole.

Naturally, educators spend ample time with students, equipping them with core ingredients to navigate life, closely witnessing how each youngster applies lessons. What better source from whom to receive nominations regarding personal accomplishments that ought to garner recognition?

Following is one such example of a DTRT award recipient, culled from an array of awardees’ attributes portrayed on the organization’s website:

As a retired policeman who once upon a time involved himself in the DTRT initiative, the incredible mindsets of young people who strived for excellence and permitted no one to dissuade them from doing the right thing always…stayed with me.

Especially nowadays, with society in utter chaos and rampancy of adults running amok and throwing tantrums when the slightest thing does not go their way, it is a heaping dose of hope induced by these early-stage successes constructing life experiences not for themselves but on behalf of others, sealed with integrity. It sounds a lot like the pedigree of cops, huh!

I was elated to scroll upon the St. Louis County PD’s post announcing its DTRT ceremony and honored awardees. Enduring the test of time, one may imagine these kids possessing a wellspring of ideas and character traits solidifying endeavors, destined for greatness.

“Do everything with integrity…even when no one is watching”

Back in the day, my favorite police chief, Anthony “Tony” Velong, invested plenty of time composing a weekly address which he disseminated to all police employees. In it, he included “Random Acts of Kindness” by police personnel, either self-observed or brought to his attention by others.

One of Chief Velong’s oft-cited credos was akin to the quoted line above, espousing integrity in all matters, whether standing alone or before a crowd of spectators.

It is the core virtue cops instilled in the DTRT youngsters whose morals and ethics amounted to deserved recognition and awards for earnestly doing the right things in life.