As a result of local and national demonstrations, there have been discussions about the need for community policing as a means to building trust between citizens and police departments.
The Wichita #NoFergusonHere meetings are an evolution of local community policing, and city leaders should always listen to citizens. But the Wichita Police Department deserves credit for several decades of work in improving relations with the community.
In 1994, the department initiated community policing in four targeted areas. In 1995, community policing was implemented citywide and became the department philosophy.
The officers’ commitment to community policing during the past 20 years is evident through their involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Union Rescue Mission, and various community mentoring and tutoring programs.
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The officers also worked to establish partnerships with neighborhood associations and business representatives. The concerted efforts of key stakeholders working in this partnership were significant to the city of Wichita experiencing crime reductions and improved neighborhood quality of life.
The heart and soul of community policy is pro-action, partnerships, prevention and problem solving, which involves both citizens and police. Citizens are encouraged to get to know the police officers by riding as observers, attending the Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy and participating in police boards, reporting crimes and other problems promptly to 911 and becoming familiar with and involved in police activities in their neighborhood, and meeting with police captains and supervisors at their neighborhood police station. For more information about the department, go to wichita.gov.
The professional men and women of the Wichita Police Department are committed to serving our community. Community policing will continue to be a major component of citizen and police collaboration in the 21st century.
Norman D. Williams retired last year as Wichita police chief.