What You Do Matters: Lessons from the Holocaust
Nine Years of Stunning Results
The very first Leadership Mission sponsored by the Jewish Foundation occurred in March of 2006 when a group of law enforcement and civic leaders from greater Prescott traveled to Washington, D.C. to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to participate in a program entitled: Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust. What has happened in the ensuing nine years is nothing other than extraordinary.
As one of the leaders who participated in the 2006 trip, Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney, quickly recognized the value the program could have for judges, prosecutors, and sworn law enforcement officers in Arizona. Knowing it would be impractical to send the state’s 800 judges, 1,00 prosecutors, and 15,000 sworn officers to Washington, D.C., Polk set out to reproduce the programming in Arizona. Over the past nine years, Polk has collaborated with the USHMM, the Jewish Foundation, the law enforcement agencies of Yavapai County, the City of Cottonwood, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST), and Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC) to accomplish the following:
- In 2007, the staff of the USHMM traveled to Tucson to present the course to those attending the Arizona Prosecutors Annual Summer Conference.
- In 2008, the staff of USHMM presented the program, How the Courts Failed Nazi Germany: Justice in the Nazi Era, to 800 Arizona judges at their Annual Judges Summer Conference in Tucson.
- The staff of USHMM successfully presented the judges’ program to the Chief Justices of the fifty states and six territories of the United States at the 2009 Annual Conference for State Supreme Court Justices held in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- With a $1.0 million gift from Jewish Foundation trustee Don Hecht and his wife, Susie, USHMM has been able to expand the judges’ program – reaching more than 10,000 state judges and staff over the past 4 years. It is expected that all fifty states will offer this program to their judges by 2016.
- In 2010, Polk turned her attention back to Yavapai County and began to strategize how the original program she had seen at USHMM in 2006 could be brought to Yavapai County. Working with Doug Bartosh, City Manager of Cottonwood, Polk created a program called: What You Do Matters: Lessons from the Holocaust. Using law enforcement professionals instead of USHMM educators and historians, and using portable posters instead of the USHMM’s permanent exhibits, Polk developed a program that allowed police officers and prosecutors to experience the Lessons from the Holocaust without traveling to Washington, D.C. First presented in February of 2012, What You Do Matters: Lessons from the Holocaust has been taught to law enforcement professionals throughout Yavapai County.
- For the past twelve months, with the support of AZPOST and APAAC, Polk has spearheaded the training of twenty-four facilitators who will begin teaching the program, What You Do Matters: Lessons from the Holocaust, to Arizona’s 15,000 sworn law enforcement officers.
- The Foundation would like to thank the people and organizations that have made this project possible. Our community and our state are fortunate to have this type of educational programming available to the members of the criminal justice system.