By Seth Daniel
Citing higher staffing levels, Chief Steve Mazzie said his department has established an impact team to patrol “hot spots” and take care of quality of life concerns.
Mazzie said he started the new patrol two weeks ago after the latest Police Academy graduates finished their local training – freeing up more experienced officers to be pulled into the new impact team.
“We really hope they’ll make a difference working with other departments and other areas of the department – the patrol officers and investigators,” he said. “So far, so good. I’m happy with what I’m seeing and the problems they’ve identified. It’s a special concept and other departments do it in different forms. Any time we can pull officers to work on known problems and focus on them, they can solve some of these problems quicker than if they are running from call to call.”
Mazzie said he started the impact team as a pilot about five months ago using a rotating group of four or five officers. He said he had them focusing on things like going to problem parks, visiting ‘hot spots’ targeted by the Department’s Crime Analysts and working on quality of life issues. Many of the things are not in the focus of a patrol officer, who is expected to respond to all calls.
The Impact Team will not be tied down by that, and about two weeks ago, Mazzie said he pulled from the patrol unit two full-time officers that will make up the team.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve increased staffing levels and now we’re at appoint where we can add some special units by pulling from our patrol division…It’s hard to do when manpower is low, but now we’re at a good level and this allows us to get in front and head off issues before they happen.”
The new team, he said, is part of the Community Service Unit, which also includes the officers that serve in the schools as School Resource Officers (SROs).
The Team will mostly identify hot spots that creep up over the year using information from the crime analysts. The analysts will look at trends, calls for service and incidents to guide the new Team to areas that are showing up as hot spots.
Also, they would be working on gang issues, investigative help, community events and patrolling parks.
“These guys are mostly multiple and need to have a jack of all trades mentality,” he said.
In that vein, the Impact Team will also work with other departments like Public Works to identify things like broken streetlights and get them fixed quickly. They will also work with Public Works on landscaping issues and tree trimming needs a – all of which contribute to a safer community.
Mazzie said the true test of the new Team will be this summer, when typically there are more calls and more potential incidents.