A nonprofit organization based in Washington state is on a mission to bridge the gap between police officers and community members through acts of kindness.
Brian Spracklen, the CEO and co-founder of BlueBridge Alliance, told KOMO News that officers involved in the program serve as a valuable resource to individuals facing challenges within the community.
“Oftentimes it’s people who’ve had poor experiences with law enforcement, and it really reinforces or reinvigorates their feeling about law enforcement officers, that they actually do care,” Spracklen said.
One inspiring example involved Officer Ivy Jacobsen from the East Wenatchee Police Department, who, with the assistance of BlueBridge, took Ja’Niah, a 16-year-old foster care student, on a shopping trip to her favorite store to obtain supplies. Jacobsen discovered that Ja’Niah was struggling due to frequent relocations.
“She was having a difficult time here at the Eastmont School District, and I learned because she moved so much she literally lives out of a suitcase. And it’s very sad,” Jacobsen said.
In another touching incident, officers in Moses Lake, with the support of BlueBridge, were able to replace a teenage girl’s stolen dog.
The establishment of BlueBridge Alliance in 2020 was prompted by the evident division between law enforcement officers and the community following nationwide protests, when police culture and morale received negative publicity. The alliance aims to shift the focus toward a positive narrative.
“It was really important we also get the story out that we make those connections and talk about those connections where officers really are heartfelt in wanting to make sure community members are safe,” Spracklen explained.
The Kent Police Department, led by Chief Rafael Padilla, is one of the agencies partnering with BlueBridge. Padilla believes the program provides officers with an opportunity to showcase their humanity.
“We interact with people all the time,” Padilla said. “There’s no doubt that when an officer in uniform shows up, there’s an impact there, but what I see and what I’ve experienced in 31 years, people can quickly see the human being that comes with an officer depending on how they show up.”
Padilla also acknowledged that his officers have previously used their own money to assist members of the community. However, with BlueBridge’s support, officers are provided with debit cards. The organization relies entirely on community donations and local grants, enabling them to offer aid to those in need whenever they come across such situations. This assistance may include food, clothing, gas, shelter or, as in Jacobsen’s case, the opportunity to brighten someone’s day through a shopping spree.
Reflecting on her experience with Ja’Niah, Jacobsen stated, “I felt my relationship truly helped her, and helped me as a person, too.”
BlueBridge Alliance has established partnerships not only with the Kent and East Wenatchee police departments, but also with the Pullman, Puyallup and Marysville police departments, among others. Their goal is to expand statewide by the summer, extending their positive impact throughout Washington.
According to the Marysville Police Department, the nonprofit has helped officers make a difference in the community. “This partnership empowers our officers to perform random acts of kindness for those who are most vulnerable. Whether it’s providing food, clothing, transportation or any other form of support, our officers can step in and make a difference when it matters most,” the department wrote on social media.