In a time when the gap between the police force and the community seems to be widening, Bill Hyche is actively striving to close it. What started as a small handbook of life wisdom he penned for his five grandsons has turned into a guidebook that law enforcement agencies throughout Texas and beyond are using as a resource for at-risk youth.
Hyche is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker who has co-founded, grown and sold several technology companies in the healthcare sector. This business knowledge, along with his life experiences, served as the foundation for Handbook for Success, which contains 52 brief maxims to help make better choices, thrive in school and succeed in business.
Writing the book was an act of love inspired by a friend’s death. Right before bed one evening, Hyche was struck with a sense of urgency to no longer postpone sharing his lessons.
“We take life for granted,” he said. “I did not want to die and not have them really know me, you know?”
Soon after starting a nightly routine of jotting down notes for his guidebook, he came across a TED Talk by David Dow, “Lessons from Death Row Inmates”. Most young men and women in prison have a similar backstory, Dow explained: a dysfunctional family. They need a nudge off their path, he said. And Hyche suddenly had another idea.
“That talk was the catalyst that moved me to expand the book from a gift to my grandsons to a gift to young people everywhere,” says Hyche.
Knowing that there are some young men and women who don’t have a parent, grandparent or any sort of role model providing guidance, he decided that his book could communicate a message: that there are people out there who support them and care about their success and well-being. The book would be a conversation starter; a bridge between confrontation and connection.
He consulted his County Commissioner, Gerald Daugherty, to get his thoughts on the idea of having officers distribute the Handbook for Success since law enforcement officers have frequent contact with at-risk youth.
Daugherty loved it, and connected Hyche with Art Acevedo, Chief of the Austin Police Department. Hyche personalized the cover of the book to display the Austin PD shield, and left room for a foreword penned by Acevedo that speaks directly to the readers. The positive reception from the APD prompted Hyche to reach out to other police departments, and soon he was creating personalized versions of Handbook for Success for police departments including the Buda Texas PD, Austin Texas ISD PD, Leander Texas PD, Columbus Ohio PD, Fort Bend Texas ISD PD and the Raleigh, North Carolina PD.
Lakeway Chief of Police Todd Radford, a Democratic candidate for Travis County Sheriff, is an ardent supporter.
“With the issues we see across the nation and the ones we must tackle here in our community, it’s more important than ever for law enforcement officials to build trust with the folks we serve — and especially with kids,” he says. “The Handbook for Success provides a common sense way to begin a conversation with young people who may need a bit of guidance, and I’ve encouraged other law enforcement leaders in central Texas to adopt it into daily use.”
Hyche’s goal is to reach law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. and provide them with a communication and encouragement tool that allows officers an easy way to connect with young people on a personal level.
Feature photo by Infinite View Images