Community Policing program is a decade old
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 10:00 PM
My name is Bob Rivers and I am a Detective Lieutenant with the Crawfordsville Police Dept. I started full time with the Police Department on July 27th 1997. I worked for nearly 10 years in the Patrol Division, having held the rank a Patrol Officer and then Patrol Sergeant. I was transferred to the Detective Division early in 2007 where I am currently assigned. I have been a hostage negotiator with the SWAT team since 2000 and have been involved in Community Policing since 2004 when then Chief Kurt Knecht approached me about the concept. Community Policing is what I wish to speak about as it is important to me as an Officer and as a person. The idea of Community Policing was simply put to me as making Police "approachable, friendly and helpful." I must admit that has always been my approach to Police work and to life. Community Policing was a perfect fit for myself and fellow Officer and now Detective Lieutenant David Long. There have been several other Officers involved in Community Policing as time has gone by. Currently we have Officer Toney Bowen that is the third Officer on the Community Policing team.
Chief Mike Norman believes, as did his predecessor Kurt Knecht, that the Police Dept. is here to help people. Help people in crisis, help people out of bad situations and even help people that are doing wrong to be able to stop the wrong doing. Retired Detective Rick Wilson has always said that we as Police are here to help people, not hurt people. I definitely share Detective Wilson's outlook on Police work. I do not agree with the current trend that generalizes all Police as only out to be bullies. I am aware that in our job as Police, we have had times where we have to be direct and even demanding in order to do our jobs safely and effectively. I will, however, still maintain that we are here to help and assist; to serve and protect. I have seen parents point to my uniform and tell their young children that if they do not behave that I will "take them away." I disagree with making such comments as I do not want children to fear the Police, but to be able to look to us for help when they are in need.
When the Community Policing concept was brought up, questions were asked as to what we as Community Police Officers would be doing. The decision was made that once a month, Community Police Officers would go into different neighborhoods in Crawfordsville and walk the neighborhoods. We were to seek out persons who wished to speak with us and assist them with complaints and problems they would present. What I found out when we began doing this was that it worked. Yes, we were immediately met with jokes and comments about being "busted down to walk the beat" and "budget cuts causing no money for gas." After the jokes, however, I found people actually would speak with us and give us information for their neighborhood. We began to hear about problem areas, problem houses, speeds on the streets, animal complaints and other issues that we were able to address. We found that small children were finding us approachable and friendly and did not see us as something to fear. We found that all neighborhoods in Crawfordsville are different, but residents seem to have the same concerns all over the City. The citizens of Crawfordsville want a safe place to live and in general want to do their part to help make and keep our City and neighborhoods safe. Many people do their part and everyone can do their part simply by knowing their neighborhoods, knowing their neighbors and paying attention to things that are out of the ordinary and unusual. Then be sure and report those things to the Police.
We have since been involved in the Strawberry Festival, health and job fairs, as well "Fun days" planned by businesses, schools, nursing homes, and other agencies. At these festivities we pass out trinkets and information to children about safety and show children that we as Police are here to help. As much as our budget can allow, we have pass out materials such as bracelets, pencils, sticker badges and Frisbees among other items. For adults, we have refrigerator magnets with emergency phone numbers on them as well as DNA kits for parents to obtain and then retain samples from their children. Even at these events, we have been able to assist persons with lost children, lost property and a number of other situations. The overall goal is and always has been to present the Crawfordsville Police Department as approachable and helpful and I feel that Community Policing has helped in that respect. In closing, you can be sure to find Community Policing Officers in the coming months and years walking through your neighborhoods and attending festivals and events. Be sure to come talk to us.
Detective Lt. Robert Rivers
Crawfordsville Police Department