Guest Column: A community partnership helps us all
No police department is large enough – nor should it be in a democracy – to keep a community safe on its own. In fact, the first “police officers” in the United States were volunteers, or “watchmen,” who’s primary duty was to warn of impending danger, at which point the community would respond. It was not until the 1830s that centralized, professional police forces were adopted.
Unfortunately, many departments went too far and became totally separated from the communities they policed. The pendulum has swung back, with recognition that effective crime prevention still requires the active support of citizens. The growing recognition of this truism has resulted in a burgeoning interest in, and implementation of, community policing methods and philosophies in police departments across the country.
I have always believed that in order for a police agency to be effective, it must have a true partnership with the community. In order to strengthen this partnership, we have undertaken the following efforts:
Strategic planning – The Rifle Police Department will be going through a strategic planning process that will include department members, agencies we interact with and citizens of Rifle. The goal of this process will be to ensure that our priorities and values are reflective of the Rifle community and to make sure we serve you in the best way possible.
Public notification – I believe it is critical that we keep you, the citizen, informed about matters of public safety in Rifle. In order to help with this, we have initiated a Facebook page. You can search for us on Facebook. We are also in the process of initiating a notification system, which will give you instant information about emergencies, notifications and community events. Go to nixle.com and sign up. As part of this, I will also continue to have a strong relationship with local news media outlets.
Public Safety Citizen Advisory Board – The city has adopted a citizen advisory board, with the general purpose of “enhancing police-community discussion and feedback, as well as providing advice and recommendations to the City Council on police department issues.” This group will meet regularly to advise me, and the City Council, on what they believe are priorities in the community, and to make sure that we are reflecting the values of the Rifle community.
Volunteers in Police Service – This program will allow us to coordinate volunteer activities to make Rifle safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation. It provides opportunities for people to participate in a range of measures to make their families, their homes and their communities safer.
Police chaplain program – The police chaplains are community volunteers who are available to the members of the department to both help them in time of need and to respond to community emergencies to help support victims and witnesses.
While I have several more ideas, this is a good outline. Everyone I have worked with in Rifle has been supportive and cooperative, and for that I am thankful. I look forward to continuing to work with you to make Rifle a safe and secure place to live and work. If you have any interest in any aspects of our operations, please call me at 665-6500.
John Dyer is chief of police for the Rifle Police Department.
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