Coconut Creek, Fla. (October 17, 2019) – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County announced a partnership today with Coconut Creek Police Department to launch Bigs in BlueSM, a one-to-one mentoring program which pairs youth with police officers. Bigs in BlueSM helps children develop into confident adults while building stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families they serve.
Fifteen Coconut Creek Police officers – including Chief of Police Albert Arenal – have signed up as Big Brother or Big Sister mentors for this innovative program. Chief Arenal, a Little Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Charlotte County during his formative years, understands firsthand the importance of empowering children through professionally supported, mentoring relationships. Because of his Big Brother’s productive role in his life, Chief Arenal encouraged his officers to step up and be a part of this life-changing program.
“It’s a wonderful testament to this department that so many officers are stepping up to mentor these kids,” Chief Arenal said. “Our officers are always willing to go above and beyond to make a difference in our community.”
“In addition to mentoring youth with an important role model, the Chief and his officers also understand that Bigs in BlueSM helps kids recognize that police officers are not to be feared,” added Ana M. Cedeño, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. “They’re simply regular individuals whose job it is to keep our community safe. The end result is a stronger bond between police and the public, which ultimately will strengthen our communities.”
This takeaway underpins the Broward County launch of Bigs in BlueSM, which is a result of the leadership of Florida State Representative Michael Gottlieb, co-chair of the initiative with Keith Williams, an attorney with Saul Ewing & Arnstein and a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. Rep. Gottlieb connected Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward to local police leadership, including Chief Arenal and the Coconut Creek Police Department, generating a strong commitment to this important program.
“We are at this point today because of the leadership of Rep. Gottlieb,” added Cedeño. “We’re so grateful for his vision for Bigs in BlueSM and incredibly thankful to Chief Arenal and all of the officers at Coconut Creek Police Department for standing with us to empower youth and defend their potential.”
In addition to Chief Arenal, Coconut Creek police officers in the process of being paired with Big Brothers Big Sisters youth include:
- Sergeant Dan Eberly III
- Officer Rocco Favata
- Sergeant Frank Fuentes
- Officer Kennard Garvey
- Sergeant Barb Hendrickx
- Sergeant Jenna Kriplean
- Public Information Officer Scott Leamon
- Officer Chris Lewis
- Detective Cody McKinney
- Sergeant Francis McManis
- Officer Andrew Reynolds
- Detective Larry Scates
- Broward PBA President Rod Skirvin
- Officer Cheri Stabile
Bigs in BlueSM, the first national initiative aimed at recruiting local law enforcement to serve as mentors to youth in their local community, was launched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 2016. It has since spread to 100 local agencies across the country. In Florida, more than 3,000 kids currently are paired with law enforcement mentors.