Community Policing

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    • 00:05

      [Community Policing]

    • 00:10

      ERIC EDSON: You guys are all aware of the burglaryat the QMart the other night.Through some really good police workwith some interviews out on the street and gatheringof some surveillance video, we'vegot a license plate of a possible suspect vehicleas well as a couple of names.Hello, my name is Eric Edson.I'm a detective with the Sheboygan, Wisconsin PoliceDepartment.

    • 00:30

      OFFICER: With that vehicle, do wehave any location where we can look for it?

    • 00:33

      ERIC EDSON: It sounded like it was from out of the city,probably Milwaukee address.But it sounds like a professional crew.So it's sounds like they're goingto be maybe coming up here again,trying to hit another target.So just being aware of that vehicle or the descriptionsthat we gave out that were on the piece of paper.As a child, I was always interested in possiblybeing a police officer.I went to school and got a degree

    • 00:53

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: in business administration.And while I was in college, I had some opportunitiesto work for a student security force thereand had some good relationships with the local policedepartment there.And it really got me interested in thinking about lawenforcement as a actual career.I was fortunate that at the time I graduated from college,the Sheboygan Police Department was hiring.And I was able to get a job right away.

    • 01:15

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: I've always considered myself very civic-minded,wanting to make a difference in my community,being part of the system that effects change.And law enforcement was a great fit for me and my personality.I've been a police officer for 23 years.And during that time, I've had a wide variety of activitiesthat I've been able to be a part of.I was assigned to the gang unit for several years.

    • 01:36

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: I was a school resource officer whereI worked with middle school students for five or six years.I was able to be a canine handler, whichdoes a really great job.That gave me a lot of neat experiences.I've been on our SWAT team and wasin charge of our SWAT team for over 17 years.So I've really had a lot of neat experiencesand fulfilling experiences as a police officer.I started my career as a patrol officer,

    • 01:57

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: and was a patrol officer for about 21 years.Recently, I was promoted to the rank of detective.During those 21 years, I was involvedin many different assignments as a police officer, whichprepared me to be a detective.My family moved to Sheboygan probably 30 years ago now.

    • 02:19

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: And so I've been a part of this community for almost threedecades.Sheboygan is a very progressive community.It started out as a very blue collar type of community,very conservative.But over the years, has evolved into a much moreprogressive community.We have a high minority population,which makes the cultural aspects of doing policing very unique.

    • 02:40

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: But we also have a lot of cultural and leisurelyactivities.We're located right on Lake Michigan.So the lake shore draws a lot of people to our community.So we have a lot of tourists as wellthey come to visit our community.So as a police officer, it's importantthat we make this community a safe place for people to visit.As you guys know, Detective Robington

    • 03:00

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: has been assigned to that human trafficking task forceto be more proactive in developing intelligenceto help us address that issue, which has been prettyprevalent in our community.So we've gotten together to have Detective Robington update uson where she's at with that intelligence.

    • 03:14

      DETECTIVE: So the Dallas Police Departmentcame up with a model on how to recognize high risk victims.So the way we can do this is to come up with childrenwith multiple runaways, children who have been detainedfor engaging in prostitution, children whoare on runaway status and information

    • 03:35

      DETECTIVE [continued]: has developed that they may be involved in prostitution,and then also children with prior reports of sexual abuse,OK?Those are all things that we can track through our analyst here.Also if they're not on runaway status,contact parents and offer to interview.So there are going to be some of these kidsthat you know who they are.Like the ones that are--

    • 03:56

      MAN: Still going to meet the criteria even if theydon't have the runaways.

    • 03:59

      DETECTIVE: Absolutely.And so we have to offer resources.And some of the resources that we've come up with,runaway youth services, Horizons4Girls, STARS.We have numerous resources and many of these parentsand many of these kids aren't even aware of it.

    • 04:13

      ERIC EDSON: The role of a police detective has really evolvedor the years.I think a lot of people might think about the old Colomboand Kojak TV shows where the detective always just cameto the high profile cases and did the investigative workand ended up arresting the perp, and that was it.In today's policing, the detectiveis-- it's a much more multifaceted position.

    • 04:35

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: You not only have to be able to investigate crimes, whichwe spend a lot of time doing, but another one of our focusesis to try to deter crime.And I would argue that that's almost moreimportant of our focus is to look at ways,different strategies that we can employduring our job, the things that we do in order to deter crime.And then the other big part of that puzzle is education.

    • 04:58

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: Educating the public as to what we do, why we do it.To get that buy in from the publicto also help us in our crime prevention effortsand to deter crime.Some of the skills that a good investigator needswould be problem solving, good communication skills,and empathy.Problem solving is important in orderto employ the strategies of community policing

    • 05:19

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: and actually go out and solve the problems in the community.Communication skills are essentialbecause you're dealing with people all the time,whether they're suspects or whether they're victims.And you need to have good communication skills.Empathy is also another very important skill.Having empathy for people helps usdevelop problem solving skills and helpsus understand where people are coming from.

    • 05:39

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: People don't always have the meansor the information needed to solve the problemsin their neighborhood.And being able to empathize with their situationhelps us understand their concernsand better address their problems.

    • 05:51

      DETECTIVE: So if we each took five filesand get school records, social servicescontacts, law enforcement contacts,that would be awesome.See what resources each of these kids has available to them.And in a way, we can prevent.We can do a lot of prevention this way.

    • 06:11

      DETECTIVE [continued]: And I hope ultimately we can evenreach the kids who have run away just even once or twice.And then even get into the schoolsand discuss why it's important to do the prevention piece.Because I'm seeing so many of the cases that I have,once you get to be an adult, usually the victimsgo back seven times before were able to get him outof the better to just do the prevention piece.

    • 06:32

      ERIC EDSON: So it sounds like donea lot with relationship building,getting some other partners involved.Now it's just going to up to us to startdeveloping more of that intelligenceand working together, kind of sharing that.I think it's important that we disseminatethis information to patrol as well,once we get our cases done.That we disseminate that information to patrolso when they have contact with these familiesor these individuals that they can take appropriate action.

    • 06:52

      DETECTIVE: Definitely.And making the contact with the kids just toknow that we are here for them.

    • 06:57

      ERIC EDSON: Sounds good.All right.Criminal investigations and crime preventionsare really interconnected.You can't really have one without the other.Anything that a detective does todaymay begin with criminal investigations,but always leads to crime prevention ideasand how we can deter crime and prevent somethingfrom happening again.Good crime prevention strategies are really

    • 07:17

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: defined by the results of those strategies, not the methodsor the intentions behind them.You don't have to spend a lot of money in a lot of casesto solve a problem.A lot of times, it's a very low tech,just getting out and speaking with people.The results that I'm referring to is reduced victimization.Oftentimes, people that are the victims of crimes

    • 07:38

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: will be the victims of crimes again.So we can break that cycle through education and crimeprevention, that's what we're lookingfor with really defining what is a successful crime preventionstrategy.So as a detective, what we're looking forare patterns in criminal activity and waysthat we can disrupt those patterns.And the way that we find those patternsis through our interviews and interrogation.

    • 07:59

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: So doing a thoughtful interrogation.When we're interviewing a suspector interrogating a suspect, doingthoughtful interrogations, tryingto illicit not only what they didbut why they did it, how they did it,might lead us to establish strategiesto help prevent crimes like that from occurring in the future.Also understanding that crime is both specific and situational.

    • 08:19

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: And that helps us when we do our CPTED which is Crime PreventionThrough Environmental Design.When we do these assessments of properties,physical properties, and explain to peoplehow they can prevent crime simplyby lighting their entrance ways, trimmingthe bushes around their house, picking up the garbage,things like that.What we do is we reduce the situationswhere people feel comfortable committing crimes

    • 08:40

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: and we take away the specificity of a locationbeing a target of a crime.Maybe it's rundown.Maybe it doesn't seem like a secure place.If we can address those specific issues, we can prevent crime.So one of the initiatives of the Sheboygan Police Departmentis to make sure that we do community outreach, especiallyto people that might not have the means and the ability

    • 09:01

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: to do a lot of the stuff themselvesas far as the neighborhood policing initiativesthat we're trying to emphasize with the safer communities.One of my responsibilities as a detectiveis to meet with the neighborhood beat officer and offerassistance in meeting with people in these communities

    • 09:22

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: and offering the assistance of the Sheboygan PoliceDepartment.

    • 09:25

      ANDY: This is Henry's house.You can kind of see some of the issuesthat you were talking about before.Some of the bushes are overgrown.There's a lot of garbage, which Iassume might be from some of the neighbors.

    • 09:35

      ERIC EDSON: OK.I see a couple--

    • 09:36

      ANDY: You'll see some other issues when we get inside.

    • 09:39

      ERIC EDSON: So I think when we go in,we'll talk about the CPTED principles with him.And just offer our systems with whateverwe can do to help get his yard cleaned up,get the ball rolling on that.

    • 09:46

      ANDY: All right.Sounds good.Good morning, Henry.How are you today?

    • 09:50

      HENRY: Fine.

    • 09:51

      ANDY: You mind if we come in and have a chat with you?

    • 09:55

      ERIC EDSON: My name's Eric Edson.I'm a detective with the police department.It's nice to meet you, Henry.Andy has been kind of filling me in on some of the concernsthat you've had with the neighborhoodand with the yard here around your house,having some difficulty keeping the bushes trimmedand keeping things looking nice and neat around the house.

    • 10:13

      HENRY: Yeah.And he offered help from some civic groupslike Boy Scouts, whatever, clean out the brush, under the brush.

    • 10:24

      ERIC EDSON: Sure.

    • 10:25

      HENRY: I've got Parkinson's so it makes it a little bitdifficult to get underneath there.

    • 10:31

      ERIC EDSON: Absolutely.Well, we're happy to help you with that.Community policing is really a philosophyof policing that focuses on partnershipswith the community.The way that I would define community policingis simply a strategy of policing in whichthe police partner with the communityto develop strong relationships in order to solve problemsdown the road.The police can't be everywhere all the time.

    • 10:52

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: And the police can't solve every problem by themselves.It's important for the police to empower the people thatlive in these neighborhoods to give themthe strategies and the informationthat they need in order to police themselvesin a lot of situations.I really enjoy community policing because it gives methe opportunity to see tangible results from the effortsthat we're taking as a police departmentto reach out to the community and have them partner with us.

    • 11:15

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: We reduce crime in our community as well as calls for service.And we have empowered people thatlive in these neighborhoods to addressa lot of the problems themselves rather than having to resortto calling the police.Community policing is really the vehiclein which we're able to convey strategiesto the general public in order to prevent crime.One of the main underlying points of that is weneed to have the public's trust in order

    • 11:37

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: to employ effective community policing and crime preventionstrategies.By going out and making relationships with people,building strong partnerships with the communitythrough community policing, we'reable to get that public trust.And in turn, they're willing to employ the strategiesthat we're asking them to do in order to prevent crimein their neighborhoods.Andy was telling me that you've already

    • 11:58

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: done some stuff around your house to keep it safe.You've got a motion light out front.

    • 12:02

      HENRY: I got motion lights in the back.And I've got a video camera for surveillancebecause I've got an expensive car back there.

    • 12:12

      ERIC EDSON: Sure Well, that's great.So Andy and I went to some training.And I've got a piece of paper for youthat you can just keep around the house.It's some strategies that you canemploy that were going to help youemploy to keep your yard picked up and your neighborhood safe.The idea being that when yards are picked upand the neighborhoods are well-kept,it's a safer community.

    • 12:33

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: People are less likely to try to commit crimesin those neighborhoods because peoplecare about the way their house looks.They've done studies, Henry, wherethey have shown that for criminals, people thatare committing crimes, it's not necessarilythe severity of the punishment that determines whether or notthey'll commit a crime, but the certainty of getting caught.And when you can employ strategies

    • 12:55

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: like lights and cameras that makesomeone think that if they do somethingthey're going to get caught, they're less likely to do that.

    • 13:01

      HENRY: Yeah.I think lights are probably the most important thingyou can put up.

    • 13:07

      ERIC EDSON: Our department employs the strategiesof policing in a variety of ways,both internally and externally.Internally, we have assigned every police officerand every detective to several neighborhoods within the city.And they're responsible for developing a neighborhood planand working in those neighborhoodswith the people that live there to address the problemsand concerns.Externally, we do a tremendous amount of community outreach,

    • 13:29

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: both to build relationships and to educate the public.The key to any effective communitypolicing strategy is building strong community relationships.These relationships are the vehicle in order for policeto communicate with the public and the publicto communicate with the police.As I alluded to earlier, the police cannot be strangersin their community.Their face, their name has to be known

    • 13:51

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: to the people that live there.Not only to be effective in crime prevention,but also to build that police legitimacythat we talked about before.In order for the police to be effective,the public needs to trust us.And in order to build that trust,you need to build strong, meaningful relationships.Some of the examples of the relationship buildingthat we do is through Coffee with a Cop, in which people

    • 14:12

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: are invited to meet with a policeofficer at a local coffee shop to discuss the issuesin their neighborhood.We hold National Night Out in Augustwhere citizens are encouraged to come out with usand stand against crime.We also have a relationship with the Special Olympicswhere we build relationships with that group.One of the core philosophies of community policingis to flatten the police organization so that people

    • 14:34

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: at the lower levels of the organizationare empowered to make decisions that are bestand in line with the strategies, the philosophies,and the mission of the police department.That's one reason why I enjoy community policing a lot.Because it gives me those opportunitiesto go out and make these contacts in the publicto build public trust, to give presentationsto various civic groups and other individuals,

    • 14:55

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: to help them prevent crime in their neighborhoods and makethem feel safe in our community.Good morning, guys.I'm really excited to be talking with you guys today.I thought today we would talk about citizenshipand what it means to be a good citizen,and also what you guys can do to help make your community safer.Whose job is it to have a safe community,to make the community safe.Whose job is it?

    • 15:15

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: Cesar?

    • 15:16

      CESAR: A police officer.

    • 15:17

      ERIC EDSON: A police officer.

    • 15:19

      STUDENT 1: Firefighter.

    • 15:21

      ERIC EDSON: Firefighter.Who else?Whose job is it to make our community safe?Whose responsibility is it, I should say?

    • 15:27

      STUDENT 2: The president.

    • 15:29

      ERIC EDSON: The president.OK, that's a good answer.I would say to you guys that really it'severyone's responsibility to have a safe community.Not just the police.Not just the fire department.Not just the government.But everybody.There's a lot of things that you guyscan do to help the police make your community safe.The police officer's job is they're responsible for safety

    • 15:53

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: all the time.That's our job.But for us to do our job, we need the help and the supportof the community.Your parents, your teachers, your friends,and family members, and you guys.Some of the strategies that we employ to educate the publicinclude the Citizens Academy, whichadults are invited to join us for a several week programto learn what it's like to be a police officer.

    • 16:13

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: We also have a Junior Police Academy for middle schoolstudents to also appreciate what it'slike to be a police officer and to encouragethem to seek out that career if they're interested in it.We also host landlord training for peoplethat own rental properties to teach themwhat the rental laws are, how to deal with problem tenants.We also host what's called ALICE Training, whichis a school safety or active shooter type of training where

    • 16:34

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: we go around to schools and businessesto educate them about what to do in those types of situations.What can you do to help the police keep the community safe?

    • 16:45

      STUDENT 3: Clean.

    • 16:46

      ERIC EDSON: Clean, that's a good answer.How many of you have ever been in a neighborhood thathas had a lot of litter and a lot of stuff laying aroundin the yards?Lot of you, right?Do you feel safe in those neighborhoods?

    • 16:56

      STUDENTS: No.

    • 16:58

      ERIC EDSON: Right?Usually not.Usually when a neighborhood has a lot of debris, or garbage,or the houses aren't really well-kept up,you don't really feel safe in those neighborhoods.So keeping your neighborhood cleanis a really good way that someone your agecan help keep the community safe.What's another way that you can help keep the community safe?What would you do if you saw a creepy looking guy

    • 17:19

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: in your neighborhood and he looked like hewas doing something bad?What could you do?

    • 17:23

      STUDENT 2: He could probably call the police.

    • 17:25

      ERIC EDSON: You could call the police.So we've talked about a lot of really good ideastoday about what you guys can do to help keep your neighborhoodsand our community safe.So what I'm going to do is I'm going to leave youguys with a challenge.It's springtime.The snow hopefully will be all melted.And one of the things that we talkedabout in the beginning of our discussionwas about keeping your neighborhood

    • 17:45

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: clean and the appearance of your neighborhood.And how your appearance of your neighborhoodreally lends itself to how safe you feel in that neighborhood.So one thing that you guys can dois I want you to go around your neighborhoodand help pick up the garbage that might have been left overfrom the winter to make sure that when you guys areout in your neighborhoods during the summertime,that you feel safe and that it's a good place

    • 18:07

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: to be for yourselves.So that's the challenge that I'm going to give you todaywhen we leave is as springtime opens upand you guys get out into your neighborhoods,try to keep your neighborhoods clean.Pick up garbage that you see and identify areas or propertiesthat need some attention.Some things may have been broken over the wintertime, city property.You can let your parents know about that

    • 18:29

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: and report that to the police department.Well, thank you very much for talking with me today.It's been a lot of fun sharing these ideas with you.And I will talk to you guys again soon.I think anyone who's looking to get into law enforcement todayneeds to understand that law enforcement isa very dynamically changing profession.Gone are the days of the officer thatjust went out and wrote tickets and patrolled on a beat.

    • 18:53

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: Police officers are expected to be much more proactiveand interactive with their community,to go out and solicit public input to help solve problems.Police officers give presentations.Police officers meet with groups.Police officers problem solve.I think some specific steps that someonecan take if they want to seek out a career in law enforcement

    • 19:13

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: are primarily to work on their communicationand critical thinking skills.Gone are the days where the police officer just wentout and wrote tickets and arrested peoplethat were in a bar fight.Police officers today are expected to problem solve.To take the concerns and the issues from the community,work in partnership with those people thatlive in the community, and solve their problems.In order to do that, you need good communication skills

    • 19:36

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: as well as the ability to problem solve and criticallythink about issues.Probably the most rewarding thing to meas a law enforcement officer occurred several years ago.As I alluded to before, I was a school resource officerin the middle schools for several years.And I ran a program college the Junior Police Academy.As a result of that program, I wascontacted by a former student of mine who is now in college

    • 19:59

      ERIC EDSON [continued]: and was majoring in criminology.And said that the reason why she decidedto go into that type of work was because of her experienceswith Junior Police Academy.And knowing that she not only choseto be more involved in her communityby serving the public but also as in a career in lawenforcement was a very rewarding experience for me.

Community Policing

View Segments Segment :


Detective Eric Edson of the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) police force discusses his career in law enforcement and the community engagement programs of his department. He presents detailed explanations as to why the police need to be engaged with the people they serve and demonstrates ways to do so.

SAGE Video In Practice
Community Policing

Detective Eric Edson of the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) police force discusses his career in law enforcement and the community engagement programs of his department. He presents detailed explanations as to why the police need to be engaged with the people they serve and demonstrates ways to do so.

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