Edmond P.D. building relationships to identify solutions to problems

By Paul Fairchild, The Edmond Sun
Original article HERE


Public safety is the number one concern of any police department. With that in mind, Edmond Police have been continually working with the public to communicate, address areas of concern, form long-term plans, and be held accountable.

These actions are being taken by the Edmond Police Department in its emphasis on Community Policing.

“Community Policing,” starts Edmond Police Chief J.D. Younger, “is more than a specific organizational model. It’s more than a tactic. But as a philosophy it is quite simply the acknowledgment that police and the communities they serve are partners in the task of providing a safe environment. They work together to identify permanent solutions for the social harms that a community encounters.”

Younger is just continuing a custom that goes back to 1977, when Edmond incorporated a community policing council made up of citizens.

Younger said the costs of the program can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

“What I would say are costs that are not doing it for you are really available through media, posts, communities where interactions with law enforcement have not been positive. I think community policing provided that foundation of trust between the citizens and their police department so when there are questionable incidents the police department and its personnel could be accountable for things that maybe could have been done better. And the citizenry is prepared to accept that. Again, police departments are made up of people and whether you’re wearing a blue uniform or not, humans are powerful.

“Having that relationship and that trust travels out from the police department to the people and helps us to be accountable for mistakes that might occur; and its through that that we’re in a much better position to be successful in the long run,” Younger said.

Edmond’s police chief stresses that community policing isn’t something a police department does to a community. Policing is something that is demanded by the community. It’s a way of discovering the citizens’ expectations and making sure those priorities fall in line with the citizens’ expectations.

To that end, Younger puts his officers in the community as often as possible, making them easily accessible to citizens with concerns about crime. On the second Tuesday of every month, the police department sponsors Coffee-with-a-Cop. Officers go to coffee shops and restaurants around the city to chat with citizens.

Younger also likes his officers to make it to neighborhood block parties and cook outs to meet and greet. These community ties are invaluable.

“Community policing isn’t a thing that we can go and do in a particular area or a strategy that we apply to one particular problem. It is a philosophy that our police members understand their role in serving a community and we are open to partnering with the citizens of our community in identifying social harms and identifying long term solutions to address those social harms,” Younger said. “Hopefully, you see that philosophy in all aspects in our service delivery, regardless of the geographic area you might live within in Edmond or whether it’s in your residential neighborhood or in your business.”

The primary way people can get involved with community policing is through the community oriented police council. But, says Younger, that has a very small membership for a community of 91,000. For that reason, the department works through other organizations: nonprofits, civic clubs, neighborhood associations, and the public school system.

The department has an annual event, Neighborhood Night Out, scheduled where officers attend block parties and cookouts.

“We’re constantly looking for opportunities to make ourselves accessible to the public in a non-enforcement or non-confrontational setting. To just kind of hear thoughts about what they expect as a community member and how we’re meeting those expectations,” said Younger.