Arlington Police Department Recognized for its GameUP 5-0 Program, Which Aims to Strengthen Relationships with Youth Through Video Games
By Office of Communications
Posted on June 05, 2023, June 05, 2023

Arlington was recognized 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.

The City of Arlington is among winners announced by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Target for this year's Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant Program, which is 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 City of Arlington was among three winning cities that will share in a total of $350,000 in grant funds.

Arlington was recognized 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.

Expanding on a successful youth mentoring model created in 2015 following the murder of a high school football player, the Arlington Police Department 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.

"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," Arlington Mayor Jim Ross said.

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.

"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."

Click here to learn more about the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant Program recipients.

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