MCN proclamation photoThe city of McAllen declared May 19 “Strength in Unity Day” at its commission meeting Monday night in recognition of the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s Strength in Unity project.

TYLA’s effort aims to bridge the gap between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

“I am overjoyed to see the recognition this project is receiving across the state but particularly in McAllen,” TYLA President C. Barrett Thomas told the Texas Bar Blog. “It shows how much can be achieved through communication and cooperation between minority groups and the law enforcement officers that serve them. We must come together to see that justice remains our common goal.”

strengthinunityCity officials issued a proclamation at the meeting acknowledging the police department’s long history of participating in crime prevention education activities and holding community outreach programs and declaring its commitment to supporting programs like Strength in Unity to encourage and sustain a positive relationship between the department and the community.

“As a McAllen resident and TYLA member, it was an honor to have participated in such an eventful ceremony,” said Victor Flores, an assistant city attorney for McAllen. “I believe other Texas cities will follow McAllen’s lead in making similar proclamations as they learn more about the Strength in Unity program.”

In a statement, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling reiterated that the city has always prioritized addressing community and law enforcement relations.

“The work the Texas Young Lawyers Association has undertaken to bring this topic to light should be commended,” Darling said. “It was an honor for the city of McAllen to be one of the first cities in Texas to proclaim its commitment and support to the Strength in Unity program.”

The city is hosting a panel discussion on the topic May 19—which will now be “Strength in Unity Day” in the city—in partnership with the State Bar of Texas, TYLA, Darling, Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, Federal Public Defender Nadia Medrano, and other local attorneys and community representatives.

The panel will be held at BT McAllen Church at 5:45 p.m.

Photo contributed by the city of McAllen. Front row (left to right): Carla Alonso, community service specialist; McAllen Mayor Jim Darling; Jenny Smith, TYLA Access to Justice liaison; McAllen City Commissioner Aida Ramirez; Victor Flores, TYLA member and McAllen assistant city attorney; Irene Luna, police captain; and Maria Gonzalez, community service specialist. Second row (left to right): McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez; and Gaston Balli, police sergeant.