January 2012- Bigs in Blue, an innovative initiative which grants paid time off to St. Louis police officers to support area youth, was unveiled Thursday, Jan. 26, at a joint news conference conducted by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO) and the St. Louis Public Schools. Police Chief Dan Isom hopes this new program, focused on the city’s littlest citizens, will have a big impact on the greater St. Louis community.
The idea for the program originated with Chief Isom who reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters and the city schools with a proposal for a collaborative effort. Once the Board of Police Commissioners gave its stamp of approval, Bigs in Blue was officially born. “The police department has a longstanding partnership with BBBS and had been searching for a program that would enable us to reach even more children,” said Chief Isom. “The Bigs in Blue program is another great opportunity for officers to build meaningful relationships with area children.”Police officers who wish to participate in the program will receive one hour of paid time off per week while serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child who attends one of the St. Louis Public Schools. Initial plans call for teaming 25 officers with 25 Littles. These police Bigs will meet their Littles at their respective schools on a weekly basis.Dr. Kelvin Adams, SLPS Superintendent of Schools, is eager to welcome Bigs in Blue to city school children. “Our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the true success stories for St. Louis Public Schools. Likewise, the District’s strong relationship with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has been very beneficial to the young people of St. Louis. Now, combining both of these partnerships in the Bigs in Blue program will provide an even greater support system for our students.”The staff at BBBSEMO will manage the Bigs in Blue. Police who indicate interest in being a mentor will apply, be interviewed and then teamed with a Little, just like any other volunteer who comes through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Once a team is made, Big Brothers Big Sisters will continue to offer support, providing a professional staff member who will help the Big and the Little grow together in friendship.Excited to join forces with the police department to create a program that improves issues related to public safety and public education, both Big Brothers Big Sisters and the city schools were quick to offer Chief Isom their full support.“Our vision is that our Littles will live and learn in positive, opportunity rich environments 24/7,” said Becky James-Hatter, BBBSEMO CEO. “Our vision can only be fulfilled through the development of successful partnerships, like the one I believe is being created here today with the police department, the city schools and Big Brothers Big Sisters.”Offering her thanks to the police department and the school district for their commitment to building a trusting and supportive partnership, James-Hatter commented, “Through the sharing of responsibility and information, we may not simply change one child’s life – we just might change a student body, a neighborhood, a city and ultimately a nation.”