The new “Phoenix Merits Program”, formerly “Maryvale Merits”, is an innovative youth outreach program formed in 2012 by the Maryvale Revitalization Corporation (MRC). This program, which seeks to reward youth for good deeds, would not be possible without the unwavering commitment of a number of dedicated partners, all of whom understand that positive interactions between police officers and youth both support and contribute to a vibrant, thriving community.
Mr. Dwight Amery says of the Merits Program “MRC is very excited about how successful Maryvale Merits has become and the interest it has created across Phoenix. This is a great step towards acknowledging positive youth behavior and building strong positive relationships between police, businesses and the residents of the community”.
The nature of the law enforcement profession is such that police officers are not routinely afforded the opportunity to engage in positive interactions with those they serve. Whether someone is victimized or is the subject of some criminal or traffic enforcement action, these police/community interactions don’t inherently build rapport, especially not with impressionable youth in our community. Maryvale Merits, now Phoenix Merits, serves to change this paradigm, however, by giving officers a mechanism to recognize and reinforce good behavior that they either personally observe or are otherwise made aware of.
Phoenix Police Assistant Chief Harry Markley lauded “The Maryvale Merits Program is a great example of the Police Department's commitment to a spirit of service. It is a positive program that recognizes youth doing good things in our community and it helps to form a relationship between youth and Police officers”.
When Patrol Officers, Community Action Officers, and School Resource Officers that serve our community observe youth engaged in good and positive behavior, these officers are encouraged to take the time to contact the young person and acknowledge the observed behavior. Examples can be as simple as crossing the street at a crosswalk, holding open the door for someone entering or exiting a building, or turning in found property. When officers witness the positive behavior, they present the young person with a Phoenix Merits card that contains the officer’s name and contact information. Additionally, and as a result of the tremendous support provided by our local business community, recipients also receive a coupon for free or greatly discounted items, to include movie tickets, bowling outings, food and drink.
Phoenix Merits reinforces the positive behavior that our youth engage in, it helps to change the perception of law enforcement, and it helps officers to connect with youth that they might not otherwise engage. This program is consistent with the Department’s robust community based policing philosophy and has already yielded many positive results.