GPD implements Public Oriented Policing tactics

By Sheila A. Marshall

Editor

The Griffin Police Department has responded to Board of Commission members’ concerns regarding local crime by implementing a new method of law enforcement – Problem Oriented Policing – which will shift officers’ focus from reactionary to preemptive.

Chief Frank Strickland explained that Uniform Patrol officers historically patrolled the city and responded to calls as they were reported. Now, that focus has significantly shifted.

“They’re targeting problem areas. We’re out there trying to solve the root of the problem,” he said. “I have multiple units from each shift, along with the K9s, assigned to Zone 1. We’re pretty much taking a portion of each shift and making them a crime suppression unit.”

Capt. Dwayne Jones, who said his involvement will primarily be to design a new performance matrix, said that proactivity best describes the nontraditional law enforcement technique now being utilized by Griffin officers.

To equip officers for this change, Jones said training, including 16 hours covering Problem Oriented Policing and eight hours of Interpersonal Communication, will be provided.

“Traditional policing is that officers respond to calls. We’re asking our officers to help identify the problems ahead of time. We’re asking officers, in their patrol capacity, to identify problems, whether its dilapidated housing, truancy and loitering, plus identify where we’re having damage to property like tagging – gang graffiti,” Jones said. “We’re identifying problems and analyzing those problems in order to identify an effective response strategy. That’s Problem Oriented Policing.”

The performance matrix Jones will develop will be used to analyze over time the success of the nontraditional policing technique.

“We’re going to do before and after. We even keep statistics for years, so we can go back and check year-to-date,” Jones said. “What we can see is cumulatively, did the action impact and decrease crime? But it’s more than that – it’s also about quality of life. We’re decreasing crime and by doing so, we hope to improve the quality of life for people who live there.”

He then explained that quality of life involves much more than actual crime statistics.

“It’s also about perception – we don’t want people to fear they could potentially become crime victims. We don’t want people to have the perception that crime is so rampant they can’t venture outside their homes,” he said. “I don’t think that perception is that rampant; I think it’s probably isolated to certain areas, and we’re trying to work with them. It’s like the old adage of taking your community back, but we don’t want the responsibility of reporting problems to only lie with the residents. We want our officers to be proactive and identify the problems. We’re going away from the concept of reacting. We need help from our residents. We also need our officers. In addition to needing the help and involvement of the community, we need buy-in from the officers, as well.”

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