In the coming weeks, don’t fear for getting arrested if a officer stops you on the street when you know you weren’t doing anything wrong.
The department will be distributing “tips sheets” to the city’s citizens, which will include information on safety, crime prevention and more.
But the purpose of the distribution isn’t necessarily to give the information out, Police Chief Charlie Sewell said. The main reasons are tracking where officers have been and making citizens more comfortable with talking to police.
“A lot of times,” he said, “we hear the citizens say things like, ‘I never see a police officer in my subdivision.’ We know we’re there. Unless that citizens is standing at their kitchen window looking at the street all day long and all night long, they really don’t know whether we’re there or not.”
Through the county’s 911 center, the department will be able to track exactly how many times officers were on a particular street as they’re handing out the tip sheets, the chief said.
The cards will also “put the citizen and the police officer face-to-face in a positive light,” Sewell said. “What it does is it makes the officer get out of the car, meet the citizen, and when the citizen can put a face with the name of a police officer, they’re more comfortable.”
And when people are more comfortable with police, he added, they’re more likely to tip them off about what’s going on in the community. Someone might say,"'We have a problem with speeding on our street’ or ‘I saw some kids on a pretty regular basis who are coming through here at a certain time of night, and we’re starting to have these vandalisms.’”
The current 27 sworn officers “from the newest member up to the chief,” plus the five Sewell , will each be required to distribute a certain amount, Sewell said.
One will be what to do while on holiday vacation: “The first thing it says is, ‘Don’t display gifts where they can be seen from a window or a doorway.’ There are just various tips, and they’ll change all the time. When we’ve given out a few hundred of one tip sheet, we’ll print out some more and give those out.”
Sewell plans to have the tip sheets printed out within the month, and since the information will be printed on cardstock that’s cut in half, he said the cost won’t be “real expensive at all.”
And have no fear of the boys in blue coming to your doorstep: “We won’t be knocking on doors,” the chief said.