How a Temple Police officer gives back to North Philadelphia’s youth
Leroy Wimberly aims to bridge the gap between police officers and North Philadelphia’s youth by encouraging the university’s young neighbors to view Temple Police as a resource and source of safety.
With 14 years of experience as an officer in Temple’s Office of Campus Safety Services, Leroy Wimberly spends his days covering the footprint of Temple’s Main Campus and serving as a source of safety for the North Philadelphia community. His role also includes maintaining a strong relationship with the North Central Special Services District by connecting with the youth who live in the communities surrounding campus.
Little did Wimberly know that a fingerprint examination would lead to identifying his passion to teach a Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program to students enrolled at nearby Paul L. Dunbar Elementary School.
“A gentleman came in to get his fingerprints for a standard employee background check, and my partner laughed, ‘his name is Kevin Wimberly,’” said Leroy Wimberly. “I thought we might be related, but I found out that he is the climate representative at Dunbar, so I told him I always wanted to do a program working with youth in the community and he accepted my request to visit the school.”
After Leroy Wimberly received his certification to teach the G.R.E.A.T program, he met with Kevin Wimberly and Dunbar Principal Dawn Moore. Since 2017, he has been teaching the G.R.E.A.T program each week to Dunbar students in grades K–8. G.R.E.A.T. is a gang and violence prevention program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice that has been building relationships between police departments and communities both nationally and internationally for nearly 30 years.
“This program helps instill in the youth that gangs are not the way to go, that you have to be a leader, not a follower,” said Leroy Wimberly. “I want them to understand that when they stand on their own two feet and believe in themselves, there are many things that they can accomplish.”
In addition to teaching the G.R.E.A.T program at Dunbar, he teaches a bike safety program for youth in the community. He said each student who completes the program receives a new bike and helmet at the end of the course.
With Dunbar being located behind Temple’s Department of Campus Safety Services on 12th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Wimberly would see kids everyday walking in the area to and from school. That Inspired to him to become a role model who connects with North Philadelphia’s youth.
“What motivates me is empowering our youth, to see the change and growth in them, and to help them understand that they do have a choice in life,” he said. “It is important for me to get them to see that they have a voice, and it matters.”
One of Wimberly’s primary goals is to to bridge the gap between police officers and North Philadelphia’s youth by encouraging the university’s young neighbors to view Temple Police as a resource and source of safety.
“I want to show our youth that all cops are not bad,” said Wimberly. “I’m not just an officer, I am a person just like them.”
On Thursday, June 10, Dunbar held a graduation ceremony at Temple’s Geasey Field. Wimberly said he took pride in the fact that his students had an opportunity to celebrate their achievement on Temple’s Main Campus.
“A college atmosphere for an eighth grade graduation gives the kids inspiration as they enter the next chapter of their life in high school,” said Wimberly. “I try to motivate these kids that if you put in the hard work and dedication at school you can achieve great things.”
“Hopefully I am still in their lives and they say, ‘Officer Wimberly, can you write me a letter to help me get into college’,” he added. “I want to instill in them that you do have resources and you are not alone.”