U.S. Conference of Mayors Announces Winners of 2023 Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grants

Program Supported by Target Recognizes Arlington (TX), Lansing (MI), and Huntington (WV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Target announced the winners of this year’s Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant Program designed to identify, promote, and support police policies and practices that cities of all sizes are finding to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents. In the third year of this competitive grant program, judges named one winner in the program’s large (over 300,000), mid-sized (100,000 – 300,000) and small (under 100,000) population categories.

The three winning cities share in a total of $350,000 in grant funds. Grant winners this year are:

  • Arlington (TX), for its GameUP 5-0 program that strengthens police relationships with targeted youth by engaging them in video games and by bringing the games into their communities.
  • Lansing (MI), for its Mikey23 Program in which police officers engage targeted youth in hands-on skill-building through rehabilitation of distressed houses in the community.
  • Huntington (WV), for its Crisis Intervention Team that pairs mental health providers with police officers to respond to mental health/co-occurring substance use crises.
  • Three additional cities, one in each population category, also were recognized by the program’s judges as honorable mentions:
  • Anaheim (CA), for its Homeless Assessment Liaison Officer (HALO) team that coordinates with and supports other homeless outreach teams where mental health experts would be beneficial.
  • Charleston (SC), where the police department is voluntarily implementing a comprehensive racial bias audit that is substantially changing policies, practices, training, and data collection capacities.
  • Trenton (NJ), for its Resilience Increases Success & Excellence (RISE) program with eight components providing at-risk youth with a wide range of career and personal development experiences.

“At Target, we place an emphasis on creating a culture of caring, growing, and thriving together, which can be seen throughout our business and in the way we invest in the communities we serve. Mayors play a critical role in creating strong, safe, and sustainable communities across America and we value our partnership with each and every one of you. Together, we will continue to advance a more just and prosperous society. We are proud to sponsor the USCM and Target Police Reform and Equitable Justice grant awards and congratulate the winning cities,” said Isaac Reyes, SVP Enterprise Risk & Government Affairs for Target Corporation.

“We commend these mayors and cities, and we thank Target for making possible these local-led programs that will improve justice and strengthen trust between communities and their law enforcement,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Our hope is that by supporting and promoting these programs, we can connect mayors with information on the approaches to police reform being taken or planned by their colleagues throughout the United States.”

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant. I truly believe Arlington has one of the best police departments in the country, due in large part to the way our officers dedicate themselves to community policing. Game Up 5-0 is a unique and creative way to bridge the gap between our youth and our officers and will help to build camaraderie and trust. This funding will help us grow this outstanding program which, in turn, will help make our community safer and more inclusive,” said Arlington (TX) Mayor Jim Ross.

“The Mikey 23 Foundation is such an awesome asset to our community that involves officers from the Lansing Police Department working alongside the youth,” said Lansing (MI) Mayor Andy Schor. “The program teaches participants important skilled trades in a positive environment from professionals who also serve in a mentoring role. It also helps to support families who have been directly impacted by gun violence. I’m beyond thrilled that this deserving foundation was one of just a few chosen to be awarded this grant,” said Lansing (MI) Mayor Andy Schor.

“Our Crisis Intervention Team enables our police officers, working alongside mental health workers, to provide individuals suffering from a mental health crisis multiple paths to services as opposed to arresting them. People must still be accountable for criminal violations, but these avenues to receive treatment create compassionate accountability,” said Huntington (WV) Mayor Stephen T. Williams.

Summary descriptions of the winning programs are below and online, where you will also soon find descriptions of all other programs submitted to the program by cities this year.

Learn more about the partnership between Target and USCM, and the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant program, in the program’s original announcement here.

Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Winners

  • Large City Award: Arlington, TX GameUp 5-0 Mobilization

Expanding on a successful youth mentoring model created in 2015 following the murder of a high school football player, the Arlington Police Department (APD) introduced GameUp 5-0 that targets a segment of the youth population that does not play traditional sports. Its goals include strengthening relationships with youth and the community through video games and humanizing the police badge. In 2018, the City of Arlington opened an Esports Stadium as a pioneering venue for large-scale esports productions and events, and for community-building. In 2021, APD partnered with the Arlington Independent School District to host a GameUp 5-0 esports tournament at the complex, an event involving about 100 local students and more than 30 officers. The event offered officers an opportunity to mentor youth on cyberbullying, stress relief, safe places/environments, and scholarship opportunities. Given the range of serious threats posed by cyberbullying, a goal is to make youth aware of risks and the need to take steps to protect themselves and others. In recent years, gaming trucks have become increasingly popular. Mobile gaming units are easily transported to any location, making them a convenient choice for GameUp 5-0 mobile events. Through these trucks, the program is reaching into Operation Connect zones, areas of the city in which a high percentage of juvenile offenses occur, particularly in summer months. 

  • Mid-Size City Award: Lansing, MI – The Mikey23 Program   
    The Mikey23 non-profit was started in 2014, just months after the founder, Michael McKissic Sr., lost his son Michael to gun violence. A second-generation construction contractor and lifelong Lansing resident, his aim was to take the youth in the area out of a potentially negative environment and engage them in construction projects. Currently, the program engages young men and women in the rehabilitation of distressed houses. Police officers work alongside the youth; positive interactions with them are aimed at building the community’s trust of the police. The increase in firearms crimes among juveniles over the past two years – caseloads for the Police Department’s investigators have doubled – underscores the current need for a program that teaches young people a skilled trade in a positive environment. New members can join at the age of 12. The program supplies safety equipment and tools. At the end of a program year, some members are elevated to the next age group and some start apprenticeship programs. During the past year the program had 24 participants, mostly male, across its age groups. Most are drawn from the underrepresented communities most impacted by gun violence. The program has earned community support and positive evaluations by researchers. It operates as a nonprofit foundation and relies on donations to fund its programming. 
  • Small City Award: Huntington, WV – Crisis Intervention Team
    The Huntington Police Department has adopted a strategic Community Policing model that deploys proactive strategies in the fight against crime. Engaged in the SMART Policing initiative and Police-Mental-Health-Collaboration, the Department developed its own Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in September 2022. The purpose of the CIT is to handle active mental health crises in the community that cannot be solved by other mental health programs such as crisis phone numbers. West Virginia leads the nation in overdoses per capita, with Cabell County (Huntington) experiencing the second highest number of overdoses in the State. The CIT, a part of the Department’s new Coordinated Care Unit that will focus solely on mental health needs within the community, pairs mental health providers with law enforcement officers to respond to mental health/co-occurring substance use disorder crises. In addition to the Police Department’s Mental Health Liaison and CIT officers, the project currently utilizes partners from the City of Huntington (Mayor’s Council on Drug Control Policy) and mental health providers in the community. In most instances the Cabell County 911 dispatcher informs the HPD shift supervisor of incoming calls and a decision to dispatch the CIT is made after ensuring the scene is clear. Calls can also come from sources such as 311, from within the Department, and from community partners and stakeholders. Substance use and mental illness are leading causes of homelessness, and the city has recently experienced an influx of unsheltered individuals that continuously fall through the gaps in the continuum of care. The project will provide resources for those unsheltered or unstably housed, those suffering mental health and/or SUD crises, and others at risk of continuous interactions with the criminal justice system.

About the United States Conference of Mayors — The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are more than 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


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U.S. Conference of Mayors Announces Winners of 2023 Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grants WeeklyReviewer

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