On Friday, September 16, 2011, Mr. Robert Groover, who has been with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for ten-and-a-half years, was recognized by the Suncoast Crime Prevention Association and awarded the “Art Walls Award.” This award is given annually to recognize a member of the association who portrays a level of dedication to the field of crime prevention and commitment to their home community.**
Having achieved this great honor, Robert will now represent the Tampa Bay area as the nominee for the statewide Crime Prevention Practitioner of the Year award.
The following is an excerpt from Robert’s nomination package, submitted to the association by his supervisors and peers:
Prior to his employment with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), Robert Groover retired after a 40 year career in Miami with the Baptist Health System providing health education programs for Miami-Dade residents. Upon moving to Polk County, Robert was hired by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on February 26, 2001, as a Crime Prevention Specialist. Robert earned his Florida Crime Prevention Practitioner and Florida Elder Crime Prevention Practitioner designation through the Florida Attorney General’s Office and was assigned to handle crime prevention duties in the Southwest District of the county.
After excelling for several years as a Crime Prevention Specialist, in October 2006, Robert was promoted to the Volunteer Services Coordinator position, overseeing the largest and fastest growing volunteer program in Polk County and the State of Florida. At the direction of Sheriff Grady Judd, PCSO embarked on an ambitious community involved endeavor-Citizen’s Assisted Patrol (C.A.P.) in 2004. The Citizen’s Assisted Patrol program recruits, trains, and deploys citizen volunteers who donate time proactively patrolling Polk County neighborhoods. These patrols increase law enforcement visibility, enhance citizen interaction with the Sheriff’s Office, increase crime awareness, and increases reporting of suspicious activities and circumstances for PCSO uniformed patrol follow up. During the first year (2004) more than 100 members were trained for the program.
Since 2006 when Robert was assigned as coordinator, the C.A.P. program has grown to over 2,800 Volunteers representing 47 separate communities and two recreational trails (Fort Fraser Trail and Van Fleet Trail). For the calendar year 2010, C.A.P. volunteers completed over 21,971 patrols and donated 84,355 hours of service. This represents a value of volunteer labor to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office of $1,552,132 based on data provided by The Independent Sector website. The C.A.P. program has received the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the highest level of recognition given by the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2009, C.A.P. was also awarded the “Outstanding Crime Prevention Program” of the year by the Florida Crime Prevention Association, and in August 2011, C.A.P. will receive the “Quality Senior Living Award in Public Service” presented by the Florida Council on Aging.
Robert’s dedication as a Crime Prevention Practitioner, as well as Coordinator of the PCSO Volunteer Program, is a statement of his commitment to public service and the field of Crime Prevention. During the past five years, he has trained and guided PCSO volunteer C.A.P. members with such enthusiasm that citizens throughout the county show interest daily in joining the program. In this time of a tight economy and limited budgets, force multipliers such as volunteers are an investment with high rewards. In a county that encompasses over 2000 square miles, Robert works hard every day to build a strong liaison between law enforcement and the citizens of Polk County.
“We are so proud of Robert and all that he has accomplished in the 10-plus years that he has been a member of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office – he comes to work every day with a positive attitude, and motivated to help others. In just a few short years under his direction, our volunteer CAP program grew from one to nearly 50 communities -- and it is still growing! He serves the people of Polk County every day through his leadership and commitment. Congratulations, Robert!” – Sheriff Grady Judd
**Arthur “Art” S. Walls is best remembered for his dedication to the field of crime prevention and love for the citizens of Sarasota, Florida. He was a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran and served as a police officer with the Long Branch (NJ) Police Department before coming to Sarasota, Florida in 1976. As a police officer with Sarasota P.D., Art dedicated himself to crime prevention and the advancement of safety and security measures to citizens throughout Florida.
When Art passed away, he was in Sebring, Florida conducting training for the FCPTI ensuring a new generation of crime prevention officers could properly serve the citizens of Florida. In recognition of his dedication to crime prevention and commitment to this community, the Suncoast Crime Prevention Association created the “Arthur S. Walls” award.