Police Engage in ‘Partnership Policing’ and Community Outreach

August 16, 2016

Eden Jackson Landow

City police departments in Georgia are ramping up their community outreach as they strive to discern valid from unfair or untrue criticism while supporting and recruiting officers who uphold the oath to protect and serve.
According to the Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Frank Rotondo it is especially important for the future of community programs to integrate more local residents as advisers and participants.
Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress believes “not just in Georgia, but across the U.S., police are not doing enough to engage the community.”
Childress added that a multipronged approach facilitates police-community understanding, particularly if the “naysayers” are sought out when forming new classes of his force’s semi-annual citizen police academies, graduates of which often go on to serve as advisers on his police advisory board, he said.
Also useful for building trust is to ensure that members of these boards reflect the community’s diversity and regularly conduct community forums, especially inviting members of civil rights groups such as the NAACP, of which he is a member.
“If you don’t meet with those folks, then they don’t know you and what’s going on,” Childress said. “I let them know [at these meetings] that, if my people are right, I’ll tell you they’re right; but if they’re wrong, I’ll tell you that, too.”
Childress endorses programs that serve as both community builders for residents and morale boosters for his officers, such as the “Shop with a Cop” program and Police Santa outreaches. Childress has found that conducting programs in schools to reach young people before they become offenders and working with the South Georgia Coalition for Employment to help prisoners when they are released from nearby Valdosta State Prison helps build trust.
In Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball takes a zoned approach to community relations, utilizing the CompStat program to aid his city’s four zones and watch commanders. He said quarterly meetings are held in each zone, typically drawing 30 to 100 people, to help build relationships and trust and gather input.
“I have a difficult time understanding the buzzword ‘community policing.’ We’ve been doing that since 1900,” Ball said. “My take is that it’s ‘partnership policing’ to build relationships so that you have a dialogue.”
The Holly Springs Police Department also utilizes in-service trainings to foster good relationships between the police and solicitor, district attorney and judges to look at where prosecutions went wrong so future mistakes are avoided.
Marietta residents participate in an immersive Citizens Police Academy.
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, who formerly served with the Savannah Chatham and Miami-Dade police departments, was recently honored at the White House for positive policing and upholding the Citizen’s Bill of Rights for Police Accountability.
Flynn said he also is proud of his pastors’ police academy built to form a bond between the police and faith community. According to Flynn, the Marietta Police Department has high educational standards for its officers, who engage the community by mentoring through the Police Athletic Program (PAL) and working with the city’s Public Safety Academy. This program uses a certified teacher to instruct kids who aspire to a career in public safety.

Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss emphasizes that officers need to get out and spend more time engaging with residents by patrolling on foot and bicycle to enhance opportunities for interaction and possibly “turn a naysayer into a supporter.”
Woodstock is putting together a “community working group” composed of stakeholders, clergy, residents, business owners, homeowner association members and others to guide their program implementation on body-worn cameras. “We are fortunate here in Woodstock,” Moss said. “Since the incredibly senseless and heinous executions in Dallas, [Texas,] and elsewhere, there has been an incredible outpouring. People are encouraging our officers and thanking them for their service. I think it has been important for our officers to feel and see.”

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