The subject of community policing has been discussed for many years in our city. Several attempts to institute such programs have been made, but two main issues have made these attempts less than successful: dedicating officers to certain areas and then maintaining that continuity. A new methodology was required.

Many neighborhoods have needed and wanted some sort of program to help reduce and discourage crime in their areas. At the request of these neighborhoods, I worked with our former interim city manager to initiate a new program called Problem Oriented Policing (POP). The difference between POP and community policing in its previous forms is that the POP teams are a larger group of officers dedicated to a given "hot spot" area, and these officers are responsible for these areas 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They canvas these hot spot neighborhoods to determine what the issues are directly from the citizens living there. The POP officers are very accessible; they attend neighborhood meetings, provide cell numbers to citizens having problems, etc.

Former Police Chief John Stenson believed whole-heartedly in the program and dedicated staff to work on its development. The program officially made it to the streets in fall 2003. Acting Chief Gary Poynter has taken it over and done an outstanding job of implementation. The chief, along with the sergeants and officers assigned to the program, are totally committed to its success and longevity. We'd eventually like to see all of our officers trained in community oriented policing-not just those on the POP teams.

The POP neighborhoods are located in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Districts of the city. The hot spot areas may change over time. While we can never eradicate crime, this approach is helping put pressure on bad behavior and improving the quality of life in a number of neighborhoods.

POP is much more organized than previous programs because officers are focused on a small area and dedicated to making this concept of policing work. It's more than neighborhood policing-it's personalized policing. The police presence in these neighborhoods is definitely starting to make a difference. More ordinance violation citations are being written, the problems are being solved, and crime is declining in these areas.

This program was approved by the city council as part of the 2003-2004 budget restructuring plan July 1, 2003. Funding for this program was from earmarked money from the garbage fee that went into effect January 1. As a result of the restructuring plan, other reductions in expenditures and increases in fees afforded early implementation of the program.

The use of a portion of the garbage fee will enable the program to continue in the future.

I'm very proud of the success this program has achieved and give high praise to the men and women in our police department working so hard to help make our neighborhoods a safer and friendlier place to live and raise families. IBI