Tulsa Officer Honored With National Award For Work With Hispanic Community
TULSA, Oklahoma - A Tulsa police officer was handpicked by the Attorney General for his work in Tulsa's Hispanic community.
Out of hundreds of officers around the country, Jesse Guardiola was recognized for a program that's been adopted nationwide.
"I felt most proud. This represents a city and state that I love,” Guardiola said.
Guardiola turned to law enforcement as a way to give back to people who guided him as he grew up.
"For me it was always, how can I give back to the community that gave so much to me?" he said.
When he joined the Tulsa Police department, Guardiola noticed a divide.
"I noticed a growing division in the Hispanic community, especially first-generation American kids which is what I was," he said.
Guardiola took action by asking department leaders if he could start an outreach program.
He did and it worked.
"We developed a comprehensive outreach program that ended up being a national model."
Earlier this year, the US Attorney General's office asked for his research to consider for their distinguished service awards in policing for his community policing efforts.
About 700 officers were considered and only 19 received the honor.
Guardiola flew to Washington DC this week after getting the news he was one of them.
Guardiola's program includes recruiting Spanish-speakers to translate for officers on patrol, building relationships with minority groups, and recruiting minority kids and young adults to think about law enforcement as a way help others.
"You can be the solution or the change within, but wear that uniform," he said.
Guardiola said there is still work to do and he hopes to see his program spread to even more departments around the country.