UNT Dallas President Bob Mong has led the charge to reinvigorate the Caruth Police Institute, and on Tuesday, Dec. 17, his initiative officially launched as the newly formed 18-person Executive Advisory Board gathered on campus for a full day of policy strategy meetings and a press conference.
The reformatted CPI is a partnership between UNT Dallas and the Meadows Mental Health Policy institute (MMHPI) with the goal of becoming one of the premier police training, policy analysis, technical assistance and research organizations in Texas and nationally. The Executive Advisory Board is made up a dozen police chiefs from departments around Dallas-Fort Worth and the state, and is led by Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey.
The board also includes Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall and Assistant Chief David Pughes, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson, Garland Police Chief Jeff Bryan, Carrollton Police Chief Derrick Miller, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, plus police chiefs from Sherman, Willow Park, Abilene, Odessa, Rockport and also the Dallas County Community College District and Dallas Independent School District.
Watch: FOX 4's report on the relaunch of CPI:
This engagement, which also includes community leaders such as former State Representative Helen Giddings, will work to formulate solutions to the most complex and pressing issues facing police departments today, such as increasing police workforce, community relations, the opioid crisis, and reducing the startling high rate of police suicide.
“By bringing MMHPI’s abundant skill sets to CPI, we can increase the reach and scope of our training, add for the first time a powerful research component, raise the visibility of CPI in the community and become one of the most important police training institutes in America. It is all possible,” Mong said. “I want to thank the Communities Foundation of Texas and the Caruth Foundation for their continued support of CPI and this new engagement with MMHPI.”
CPI receives ongoing operational funding from Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT). CPI was established with substantial seed funding from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund at CFT.
High on CPI's agenda, is conducting research to better understand why police officers are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Chief Spivey said in 2019, there have been 17 police officers commit suicide in the state of Texas, second only to New York, but, per capita, Texas leads the country in police suicides.
“We are announcing today, one of our primary policy focus areas is on officer wellness and safety with a focus on ending police deaths by suicide in Texas in 2020," Spivey said. "We will apply for grant funds to establish the Texas First Responder Peer Network. The network will be grounded with six regional law enforcement agency hubs across the state, with the University of North Texas at Dallas and the Caruth Police Institute serving as administration and training agencies."
The police chiefs on the advisory board will play a critical role in guiding strategic planning to enhance CPI’s foundation through assessing the training program curriculum, developing a policy analysis and technical assistance division and establishing a research plan. Under CPI’s new structure, MMHPI will provide executive leadership, headed by interim executive director B.J. Wagner, and will work in close collaboration with Mong and UNT Dallas Provost Betty Stewart.