For local police organizations, the community is an important part of what they do
ROSS COUNTY— For local agencies, community involvement is an integral part of their work.
Whether it’s events like Shop with a Cop during the holiday season or back-to-school events in the summer, the role of law enforcement is more than stopping crime.
Ross County Sheriff
For the Ross County Sheriff’s Office, staying in the community is important, Sheriff George Lavender said.
For him, that means holding crime watch meetings in villages and townships in Ross County, as well as educating the elderly about scams and working otherwise to protect the county’s most vulnerable populations – the elderly and the children.
“For the elderly, they usually have their house paid for and some money in the bank when they retire,” Lavender said. “Scammers are often after them, they know they have money and don’t live on paycheck after paycheck.”
To counter this, the office keeps in touch with older people in the community, holds education sessions, and reaches out to older people to ask questions about any suspicious calls in an effort to keep older people informed about scams.
The sheriff is also ensuring they are present in schools through a school resource officer program, which began nearly seven years ago.
“I didn’t have enough money to put one in all the schools, but I went to the trustees and asked for funding to at least have one to go intermittently to all the schools throughout. of the week and build trust with the children, and just to have a presence in schools with all that the country has massive casualties, ”he said.
His office also holds a “coffee with the sheriff” on the first Friday of each month at McDonald’s, and chooses a different lunch spot each Friday of the other three weeks, said Major Mike Preston, public information officer, and also holds an annual DARE golf outing every summer.
As the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin sparked nationwide unrest in early 2020, prompting protests against police violence across the country, Lavender said the relationship with the Ross County community is stronger than ever.
“You can’t go out in public without someone thanking you for your service, or staying safe, stuff like that,” he said. “It has always been favorable to the police.”
Deputy Chief Sheriff Col. TJ Hollis said community policing has always been central to the vocation of the sheriff’s offices.
“This particular sheriff took this as a particular challenge to ensure that every deputy under him continues this tradition, telling every deputy that when they meet a member of the public, to treat them as you would your mother and your mother. father be treated, ”Hollis said.
For Chillicothe Police, community involvement is an important part of their mission, said Captain Michael AD Short, Office of Public Information.
“The Chillicothe Police Department appreciates being a part of the Chillicothe community and the relationships we have built,” he said.
Throughout the year, Chillicothe Police participate in a number of outreach initiatives, participating in Shop with a Cop during the winter, providing two school resource officers to schools in the town of Chillicothe and working with community social work organizations such as Ross County Community Actions Peer Recovery Services, as well as other members of the Ross County Overdose Response Team each week.
When former Chief Keith Washburn retired in 2020, he had always strived to take a community policing approach, telling The Gazette in his last interview that he strived to put people in contact with treatment for the root cause of their problems rather than a punitive approach when possible, thus reducing criminal activity on the road.
His replacement, current boss Ron Meyers, takes much the same approach. His greatest achievement, he told The Gazette when he was sworn in, was serving as a community police officer.
“When I started I was integrated into a neighborhood, I really liked knowing the people in the neighborhood, solving problems and things like that,” he said.
Following last year’s protests over the death of George Floyd, then Captain Meyers served on a committee to ensure their use of force policy met police standards community, with his colleague Captain Tim Gay.
The committee determined that the policy only needed two major changes: a ban on the use of chokes in situations where lethal force is not permitted and the addition of a positive duty for officers. intervene in situations where another officer uses excessive illegal force.
With a recent staff turnover, Chief John Winfield took over in early July following the resignation of his predecessor Zach Dixon. One of his goals was to build stronger relationships with the community.
“We want to let the community know that we want to be part of the community,” he said. “Go out, do more public relations, go out and participate in community events.”
While working as a second-team patrol officer, Winfield said he often stops at the park to play basketball with children.
“We want to let people know how the company is enforcing the law right now, we’re not bad guys – luckily we have a lot of community support here, which is a good thing,” he said.
“I think our relationship needs to be improved,” he said on a back-to-school party in Waverly on Aug. 10. “That’s why we do this stuff.”
At the party, Waverly PD created ‘Kid Print’ IDs for the children, which involved getting a photo, name and personal information for the child as well as a fingerprint, all of which could be used. for the identification of a pupil in the event that they disappear.
On August 14, the department participated in a “Meet the Heroes” with the Waverly Fire Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Piketon Police Department, Piketon Fire Department, Research and the Ross County K9 Rescue and Ohio State Highway Patrol, providing the opportunity for the community to interact with them in a positive way. At one point in the afternoon, Winfield even let himself dive into a water tank.
In October, he said, the police department will run a haunted house.
Building that relationship is important for officers and the department, he said.
“It’s a win-win for the community and the officers,” said Winfield. “Agents can go out and talk to the community individually and not on a call,” he said.
The chief also plans to rebuild the community monitoring program, allowing the community to take a more active role in law enforcement.
“It’s just about working with the community and making them pay more attention to what’s going on in their neighborhood and report to us any kind of suspicious activity,” he said.
Currently, the police department is also using their auxiliary program to assist, until the chief can fill four positions on the active roster.
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