ACT Recognition Reception Honoree Ron Griffith

Griffith w cochairsWhat a fortunate time for the Abington community when Ron Griffith moved here in 2002 and then joined the Abington Police Department as the Township’s Animal Control Officer in 2007!

Ron grew up in New York City.  He is a graduate of Springfield Gardens High School in Queens and attended the State University of New York at Old Westbury.  He served the New York City Police Department for 20 years, retiring with the rank of Detective.  During his career, he was assigned to Patrol, Community Policing, the Anti-Crime/Plain Clothes Unit, Emergency Services, and the SWAT & Rescue Unit.

During his police career, Ron developed his passion for helping youth.  He describes; “As an NYPD officer, I had the unfortunate experience of arresting many young people.  I briefly had the chance to work with an organization in Crown Heights where I mentored youth on their interactions with police.  I talked to them about the appropriate things to say and not to say and reviewed conflicts to explain how they escalate.  I always knew that when I retired, I wanted to assume a far greater role in being a positive influence.”

And, that is exactly what Ron has done in Abington.  On many weekend evenings, Ron can be found at the Abington Police Athletic League (PAL), interacting with PAL boys and girls.  Ron enjoys engaging the young people by asking them about their interests and helping to walk them through the steps they need to take to make their dreams a reality.  He also likes to explore decision-making scenarios so that he can talk to them about the consequences of their actions and the importance of respecting others, especially themselves, their peers, and the volunteers at PAL.

Knowing how important enrichment opportunities are, Ron has arranged several times for his friend to bring falcons to Abington PAL.  He explains, “Children need to see new things.  PAL members have been fascinated to see raptors up close and learn about their care and training.”  Ron has also offered ideas to increase the effectiveness of Abington PAL.  He feels it is important to review respect and basic rules each time children come to PAL as repetition helps them remember what is important.  He wants to see a growing variety of sports clinics as he believes that if children learn about a sport, that new awareness can open doors to their future education.

Last fall, Ron went through training to begin serving the Pennsylvania Disproportionate Minority Contact Group through its Montgomery County Work Group.  The mission is to counsel police officers and young people about how to have positive first contact.   Ron’s group travels to municipalities throughout the county to provide police officers with
helpful information about juveniles.  They discuss the development of the juvenile brain and its evolving capacity to make good judgment calls.  They share why youth reactions toward officers are sometimes based on culture and immaturity and are not always personal toward an officer.  Ron points out that many young people age out of crime in their 20s.  The group also works to find diversionary programs such as youth aid panels so that young people are not in the justice system any longer than necessary.

Ron notes that what makes this community special is the willingness of the municipality to invite community members into their midst in meaningful ways.  They offer many wonderful programs, such as the 24-Hour Relay, Rock-a-thon, Pre Night Out, Citizens Police Academy, and Scout Day.   “We are so willing to show our citizens how we operate and give them opportunities to serve,” Ron points out.  “I credit Chief Kelly for many of the good things that happen in Abington as he has led the department in reaching out to the citizens.”

Ron says his ultimate vision is to see the Township and schools grow in preparing out children to be productive citizens in society.  “We need to teach them how to get jobs, and one way we can do that is by offering them internships where high school students can be taught how to work by township employees.”  Ron adds, “I would also like to see more projects where young people have the opportunity to beautify the community.”

Ron and his wife Terri make their home in Ardsley where they have been raising their son Teron and their daughter Rori.  Ron is a member of the Willow Grove NAACP, serves on the Rapid Response Team for Abington’s No Place for Hate initiative, coaches track at Cedarbrook Middle School, and is a 24-Hour Relay volunteer.  He was honored by Abington PAL in 2013 for his devoted mentoring of young people and received the Willow Grove NAACP Presidential Award in 2015. He was recognized with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award in January and is a recipient of the Bronze President’s Service Award for volunteering between 100 and 249 hours in 2015.  In his “spare” time, Ron enjoys coin collecting.

Abington ACT is deeply honored to have such a dedicated member of this community who cares deeply about the children—our future.