The recent commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day gave us the opportunity to remember the 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazis and to reaffirm our commitment to education, community building, and advocacy. Once again, we declared, “Never again!” What You Do Matters: Lessons from the Holocaust (WYDM) is an innovative ethical leadership program for law enforcement professionals that seeks to ensure never again is more than just a slogan.
WYDM was created in 2012 in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., leaders in Arizona law enforcement, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott (JCFGP). Facilitated by law enforcement professionals, the program explores the process by which police in Nazi Germany went from protectors of the people to enforcers of Nazi ideology. By the end of the course, participants can apply what they have learned to their day-to-day activities to help them better serve their communities. To date, more than 6,000 law enforcement professionals from more than 100 agencies across Arizona have participated in WYDM training. In addition to Arizona, the WYDM program has been taught at law enforcement conferences in California, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and North Carolina.
Tucson Police Department graduating classes began participating in WYDM in 2017. Their training includes a visit to the Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center, where the cadets tour the exhibits and have the unforgettable experience of meeting a Holocaust survivor, hearing their testimony, and engaging in a question-and-answer session.
As increased incidents of police brutality and indifference have come to light, demands to retrain officers or redirect police funding have grown. Calls to expand the WYDM program led to efforts to grow the program nationwide. After being connected with JCFGP President David Hess, a group of fund holders at the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona helped answer the call. On January 17, 2022, Todd Larson began his tenure as the inaugural National Director of the What You Do Matters Institute. Since that time, the Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale Police Departments have committed to training all of their officers. The New Jersey District Attorneys Association, the state of North Carolina, and the Ohio Chiefs of Police Association have also expressed interest in training.
To learn more about What You Do Matters: Lessons from the Holocaust visit the institute’s website. To learn how your philanthropy can make a difference in the causes and organizations you care about, contact a Legacy Team member at the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona at (520) 577-0388 or [email protected]