LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Las Vegas chapter of the Black Police Officers Association knows community service, and sets an example for others across the country.
“Las Vegas has become the chapter as far as events,” says Regina Coward-Holman, president of the Las Vegas Chapter. “A lot of other states look up to us to see what we are doing.”
With events like back-to-school fairs, holiday programs, and most recently, drive-thru food banks for families, the Las Vegas BPOA chapter has won awards — including the prestigious Willie Smoot Award.
Coward-Holman was a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer for more than 20 years.
“Service is everything,” she said. “Because if you can’t serve, you’re not going to be effective.”
Coward-Holman and current Metro officer Adrian Hunt realize their race and background influence the job.
“That is our job,” Hunt says. “It’s to bridge the community that we grew up in and to show they, ‘Hey, we are here. We are regular people just like you guys.’”
Founded in 1972, the BPOA’s mission is to be the conscience of the criminal justice system, advocate for officers of color and improve the quality of life in the Black community.
And in the Black community, the excessive use of force by police is a recurring issue.
The death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis, and the death of Breonna Taylor, shot to death in her Louisville home, triggered protests across the country.
And that led to discussion on police reform, systemic racism and implicit biases.
“Nationally, we hosted a lot of town halls. Our national chair was on every talk show,” Coward-Holman says. “It’s about being accountable and doing the right thing. It’s not easy to. It takes bravery and honor to do the right thing.”