The Houston Texans and the HISD Police Department on Tuesday teamed up to bring a message to students at Cullen Middle School that law enforcement officers – especially those in their schools and neighborhoods – can serve as positive role models.
The program with the Texans, called Houston Heroes: Community Conversations, involves one‐hour, small-group discussions with HISD students to strengthen relationships with police officers from multiple agencies, as well as to highlight some of the heroes everyone has in their lives.
Texans Ambassador Wade Smith and current Texan teammates Kendall Lamm and Chris Clark led the discussion with HISD Police Officer Eric Grant, sharing a little about who they consider to be heroes in their lives – and how police officers had been a positive influence growing up.
Officer Grant said the importance of the program is to build connections in both schools and the greater community.
“We want to reinforce the value of communication between law enforcement and the students, and the connection between their families and how we interact,” he said. “It’s important for us to gain more trust on both ends.”
Lamm told students that while he had a negative view of the police as a young child, he later built a lasting relationship with a D.A.R.E. officer who taught him and his classmates about drug awareness.
“He became part of my life, and I still see him to this day,” he said. “It’s about the people who impact you, and that officer changed my entire view on police officers because he was a great person. Don’t let one instance shape how you view people.”
Clark shared that he also did not trust the police until one of his friends became an officer and showed him a different perspective – that the people he saw being negatively impacted were doing things that were wrong.
Smith said many kids face obstacles that make a strong relationship with law enforcement important.
“If you’re a kid who grows up in a bad neighborhood, it doesn’t make you a target; it makes you a person who needs even more protection,” Smith said. “And if there are police officers in your neighborhood, that’s because there are people there who aren’t doing the right thing.”
Cullen Middle School Principal Clayton Crook emphasized that the program has an important message that his students need to hear.
“Our police officers are heroes,” Crook said. “[This program is] improving the relationships between students and police officers, and building that trust and respect. The conversation was very real.”