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Arlington ACAPP Organization Brings Together Clergy and Police Officers

Jan 19, 2016 11:03AM ● Published by Kevin

ACAPP President Charles Richardson, Treasurer Frederikka 'Freddy' Stark and Arlington Police Officer Kimberly Fretwell.

There are still some good people in this world, and the city of Arlington is blessed with a few of them. These kind-hearted individuals make up the Arlington Clergy and Police Partnership (ACAPP). The group’s mission statement makes their purpose clear: “The Arlington Clergy and Police Partnership (ACAPP) supports the Arlington Police Department and the community by ministering spiritually and serving sacrificially.” 

The ACAPP program was created in 2009 by former Arlington police chief, Theron Bowman. At the time, it was a new way for area church pastors and leaders to work with the police department as a kind of go-between with the community and neighborhoods throughout the city and its police force. The partnership has been a great way to change misperceptions within the community and unite citizens and the police force in a whole new way.

Kimberly Fretwell is an Arlington police officer and the police liaison to the ACAPP. She says the key is “unity in achieving a safer community.” She explains the organization as a “coalition of clergy from every faith and denomination who partner with the Arlington Police Department.” ACAPP members are called upon to pray for the police department members, build relationships with police officers and other governmental officials, and to be available for various situations involving the community. “The goal is to achieve a safer community through prayer, community involvement, sharing information and support in crisis situations,” says Fretwell.

Volunteers United

Charles Richardson is ACAPP’s president and he also serves as Cornerstone Baptist Church’s director of facilities and security. He’s been involved with the group since the beginning and currently presides over the five-member board and its current stable of 43 clergy volunteers.

“We’re the interface between the police and the neighborhoods,” he explains. “One of the things we have learned is that in many cases, people will talk to us rather than talking to the police.”  That gives Richardson hope that the ACAPP can work to bring the groups closer together, build more rapport and build a new level of trust and respect. 

But beyond helping create more goodwill between the public and police, Richardson says the group is also focused on community outreach. Its members are there to offer spiritual assistance such as prayer and counseling to those in need, but they also provide for physical needs such as clothing, school supplies and other necessities. He estimates that ACAPP assists dozens of individuals and families each year, and the number is growing.

Richardson recalls a situation a couple of years ago where a developmentally-challenged man in the area had his basketball goal stolen from his home. “When the police reported it to us, we purchased a new goal and had it installed. We told him it was courtesy of the Arlington PD.” That’s the kind of goodwill the ACAPP is trying to create by helping people and building relationships.

Frederikka (Freddy) Stark is a Seminary student who is studying to be a chaplain. She’s also a board member of ACAPP, serves as its treasurer and has been involved with the organization since 2010. “It’s our goal to come alongside the Arlington Police Department, get to know the officers and then help develop good relations between the police and the community,” she says. One of the ways they do this is by visiting every police precinct, taking food to the officers and participating in ride-alongs with the officers.

There are currently 43 clergy members that make up the ACAPP. Each has been trained extensively in a 12-week training program that requires a three-hour class every week during the training process. The training program is facilitated by the police department. The ACAPP members have regular monthly meetings and volunteer their time to the cause each month. Richardson estimates about 25 percent of them are church pastors while the other 75 percent are church leaders with hearts to serve others. 

“It takes some time, training and dedication to the cause but it’s worth it,” says Stark. She explains how ACAPP has grown to offer numerous ways for its volunteers to help out in the community. “There are so many different ways to be involved, there’s the children, domestic abuse, homeless, jail ministry, counseling and more.”

Volunteers Welcome

As a 501(c) organization, ACAPP relies strictly on donations and dues from its members in order to stay functioning. Stark says they are always looking for dedicated volunteers who have the time and passion to participate. “We want people who have demonstrated leadership within their church and who desire to help those in our community,” she says.

Fretwell is the point person for volunteer applicants and she schedules the training classes. It’s a 12-week program and requires a three-hour class once a week. All candidates must pass a criminal background check. 

Volunteers participate in ride-alongs with the police, and hear from a parade of instructors in all areas of police operations including domestic crimes, traffic enforcement, homicide and more.

“It really is a special calling,” says Richardson, of the organization and its volunteers. “And we welcome volunteers from all faiths who want to make a difference in the community.”    

For more information on the ACAPP visit http://www.arlington-tx.gov/police/programs-and-initiatives/clergy-police-partnership/

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