Cookeville, TN – On September 1, 2022, the Cookeville Police Department recognized Jamaal Thompson (JT) and presented him the Distinguished Citizen Award for his unselfish devotion to his fellow man as well as his meritorious achievement in the performance of his civic responsibilities.
Chief Randy Evans said, “One of the goals of the Cookeville Police Department is to apply a true community-oriented policing philosophy to all services delivered to the community as well as to develop and maintain positive relationships that foster problem-solving partnerships with our law enforcement cohorts and the citizens we serve. That’s exactly what JT did and continues to do every day.”
During the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2020, Chief Evans met JT at a meeting on the campus of Tennessee Tech University (TTU). The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers earlier that year had obviously had a negative effect on the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement agencies nationwide. During later conversations with JT, there was some discussion about offering a Citizen’s Police Academy type of training program as a “for-credit” class at TTU. A goal for the class would be to specifically attract students who are culturally different from most of the members of the Cookeville Police Department and/or students from communities where the relationship with law enforcement is particularly strained.
While some might offer platitudes or sincerely mean to help without any follow through, JT took ownership of the idea and started contacting university faculty members and coaching staff to explain and promote the concept. His efforts were instrumental in the adaptation of the Service Learning in the Community class to match the paradigm that had been previously discussed. Once the first class was scheduled for the Spring Semester of 2021, JT personally contacted students (especially student-athletes) to help convince them to enroll in the class.
The 2022 Fall Semester at TTU marks the fourth iteration of this class and JT has continued to facilitate the ongoing success of the program. Beyond being educational for attending students, this class provides an ongoing opportunity through direct personal contact for our officers to learn from people representing a demographic different from their own.
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