Alvin Maker is a trained sculptor with a degree in fine art, a hobby gardener, lifelong bike enthusiast and former dog trainer. But his most important and beloved role is being the NIH’s community policing coordinator, responsible for keeping Children’s Inn residents, volunteers, staff and visitors as well as other NIH patrons safe.
“My core goal is to strengthen the bridge between the community and law enforcement,” Maker says. “In my position, I listen to community concerns and dive into them to find a solution or route them in another direction. What attracted me to this position is the chance to effect positive changes in people’s lives.”
To make positive changes for Children’s Inn residents and supporters like you, Maker regularly meets with Children’s Inn staff. Working behind the scenes, he helps ensure the general safety of events held at The Inn and arranges for NIH police officers to participate in special events. So far, Maker has participated in everything from monthly parties for children and families to larger events that bring guests to The Inn, such as the annual Montgomery County Police Department’s Santa Ride.
“The officers who participate in these events all have good hearts, and they swell a little bit more when they get into the moment,” he says. “The uniforms give us a rough look, but we are big teddy bears when you get to know us – and grizzly bears only when needed.”
To make sure children and families understand that the uniformed officers wearing full gear are here to assist them at any time, Maker meets with Inn residents monthly for Coffee With a Cop. The 7 a.m. meeting is perfect for early risers and children and families who are up for a chat before heading to the NIH Clinical Center for a day of appointments.
“Events like these give NIH guests the chance to meet officers and ask questions that break the ice,” Maker says. “They ask me questions, and then they share their lives and experiences with me. The moments of interacting with families – that gives me the motivation to keep going. If these kids can deal with all their medical problems, we really shouldn’t complain about things.”
In the fall, Maker and other NIH police officers got into the Halloween spirit, decorating an NIH police vehicle for The Inn’s trunk-or-treat party. It was the second year in a row that NIH police officers participated in The Inn’s Halloween festivities.
“Corporal Maker and the other NIH officers really have a great demeanor with our families,” says Javin Smith, The Inn’s program operations manager. “They’re really engaging, friendly and always happy to help. They have a good sense of humor, and we’re so glad they’re participating in our events to get to know our kids and families. Our children often are in awe that the officers are participating in these events. It’s often the only time they get to engage with officers in such a fun way, and it leaves a deep impression on them.”
This summer, Maker looks forward to monthly Ice Cream With a Cop days to enjoy sweet treats and conversation with Children’s Inn residents of all ages.
Maker, who has been tasked with restoring the NIH Police Department’s bike patrol and who has enjoyed biking and fixing bikes all his life, also plans to start a bike clinic for Inn residents later this year. During the clinic, he hopes to teach residents how to care for bikes and learn to fix them. He also hopes to tune up The Inn’s fleet of bikes, available for residents’ use at any time.
His official policing duties also come in handy for Inn residents and staff. The Inn recently asked Maker to help stop unauthorized NIH visitors from parking at The Inn’s parking lot, taking away valuable parking spots from residents, volunteers, supporters and staff. In addition to issuing parking tickets, Maker sought to educate parking violators about the role of The Inn and the importance of leaving parking spots to Inn families. The campaign is showing success.
“The NIH police also is here to provide escorts to Inn families, supporters and staff whenever the shuttle isn’t working or there are other transportation-related issues,” he says. “We’re here to safely guide our guests to their destinations on campus at any time.”
Maker’s love for police work was ignited by community police officers he met growing up in Howard County. From age 14 to 21, he joined the Howard County Police Explorers, a police-led training opportunity for teens and young adults interested in learning about law enforcement and serving their communities.
In college, Maker followed in his artist mom’s footsteps and obtained a degree in art, specializing in sculpture. But in the end, his love for police work won out, and he trained to become an officer rather than an artist. He continues to draw as a hobby.
During his time off, he also enjoys gardening, biking and exercising. But from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., his favorite task is assisting and spending time with the children and families who call The Inn home.