Tarleton State University criminal justice graduate Kevin Kolbye has received Arlington Police Department’s Medal of Merit.

Kolbye, a 2015 graduate of the master’s program based at Tarleton-Fort Worth, is assistant chief of the Arlington department.

The honor is a result of The Walmart Restorative Justice Program initiated by Kolbye. The program, in place for three years, has helped foster improved working relationships between police and retailers, and makes a more efficient use of officers’ time.

A 50-percent reduction in calls to the Arlington Police Department has made the program a national model. In its first year, the program was credited with cutting shoplifting arrests by 65 percent at Arlington’s three Walmart locations and saving the police department more than 12,000 hours so that officers could refocus their efforts on preventing violent crimes and community policing.

Another key aspect to the program’s success is the alternative to arrest for first-time offenders who successfully complete an educational program explaining how shoplifting hurts the community.

“Like a lot of crimes, you can’t just arrest your way out of shoplifting or theft,” Kolbye said in a broadcast interview. “Hopefully what [this program] does — it gives the individual who gets a second chance to think twice about committing another shoplifting or theft.”