heroes_in_the_community

Heroes in the Community: CMPD Lieutenant LeBraun Evans

Managing Many of CMPD’s Mentoring Programs

By Sam Perley

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has forced much of society to alter its day-to-day way of life. Stay-at-home orders haven’t impacted law enforcement officers nearly as much as other areas of the work force, but things have certainly been different.

Lieutenant LeBraun Evans currently oversees Community Engagement at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. A Charlotte native going into his 27th year with the organization, Evans manages many of CMPD’s mentoring programs designed to get students involved in his particular line of work. 

“We’ve still been reporting to work, but it has changed the way we do business,” said Evans. “We have mentoring programs in middle schools and high schools. We run an Explorer Program, which is for ninth through 12th grade students. We teach them everything about being a police officer and try to drum up that interest in our profession.” 

He added, “That leads into the college cadets, which are college students that have put interest as well into the law enforcement profession. We pay them to work with us and learn the profession. It’s about 25 hours a week or so and we pay their tuition in college. Then they receive priority to get into the police academy.”

Evans also works with younger individuals showing potential early signs of going down a less-than-advantageous path or who have committed minor crimes. The focus is less about punishment and more about rehabilitation and learning moving forward. 

“We run a REACH (Respect, Engage, Accountability, Character and Honesty) program for kids whose parents or a school counselor calls to let us know that the kid may be having issues. They haven’t been in trouble, but could be headed that way. We start mentoring them. We do something fun at least once a month, sometimes twice a month. We also teach them life skills, how to pick better friends, how to interact with others, social skills. We meet for at least five hours one Saturday a month and then we have a week-long camp in the summer.”

“We have another called REACH OUT (Officers Understanding Teens) for individuals generally between 16 to 21 years old. They have been charged with a first-time low-level felony. It could be breaking into a car or taking something out of the register at his or her job. That felony would keep them from getting a job, getting an apartment, a lot of things. We teach them all of the same types of things every Saturday for about five hours as well. Once they have completed 100 hours with us, then we have their cases dismissed and totally expunged.”

As Evans mentions, a huge part of these specific programs is meeting face to face and weekly human interaction. Social distancing has made this particular element mostly unfeasible for the time being, so like everybody else, CMPD has adjusted and gone virtual. 

“We hold classes over Zoom, so the kids still get that instruction. We do home visits and just have the kids come outside and talk to us. For our cadets, we have them assisting us with Meals on Wheels or Friendship Trays. Because the stay-at-home is preventing a lot of volunteers from continuing that work, we filled in the gap to deliver meals every day to elderly people. We also pack lunches and meals to go home with students. CMS has about 60 schools where students can still pick up food. We pack those bookbag meals for them and Second Harvest Food Bank.” 

Evans has been a Hornets fan going all the way back to the original Opening Night in 1988. He’s been a season-ticket holder since 2004 (the organization’s first year back in Charlotte after relocating to New Orleans) and attends as many games as his busy schedule allows him. 

“I love this team,” he said. “Just seeing Devonte’ Graham step into that role that Kemba (Walker) had has been wonderful. I enjoyed watching them and going to the games. I was pretty excited about the season. I love seeing the younger guys play. I definitely loved Kemba, Gerald Wallace, whose jersey is hanging in my man cave. I think Gerald was probably the most exciting player to watch.” 

Over the years, CMPD has partnered with the Charlotte Hornets on a number of occasions to reward individuals in several of these community programs with NBA-related experiences.

“The Hornets actually do one of the programs, which involves giving a tour of the arena and talking about sports and entertainment,” stated Evans. “We support the basketball camps the organization has every year and sponsor kids for them as well. We’ve had a great partnership with the Hornets.” 

Throughout this ‘new normal,’ it’s easy for anybody to feel disconnected from the world at times, especially younger people so accustomed to daily social interactions. But thanks to the efforts of those like Lieutenant LeBraun Evans, CMPD has helped close the gap tremendously during these uncertain times. 

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