We are here for you.
That’s the message the Huntsville Police Department’s (HPD) Community Resource Officers (CROs) want to send to the community. Through a mix of community engagement and policing, this dedicated group of officers serves as a bridge between diverse groups throughout Huntsville.
Assigned to HPD’s three precincts, CROs work to ease citizen concerns and help resolve issues before they require law enforcement intervention. The officers also collaborate with about 160 groups that are a part of the Huntsville Community Watch Association (HCWA).
By working in precincts in different areas of the City, CROs can address the specific concerns of their neighbors.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small the concern is, the Community Resource Officers are constantly working with community watch groups to help,” said Sgt. Chris Davis, who supervises the unit.
The officers strive to have an open line of communication and quickly address concerns about speeding, littering or other neighborhood nuisances, Davis explained.
Bridging the gap
Since becoming Commander of HPD’s South Precinct this past summer, Capt. Jerry King said he has a deeper appreciation for how CROs work to bridge the gap between the community and police department.
“When the CROs form a relationship with citizens where they feel comfortable to tell them about issues impacting their communities, that allows us to better serve them,” he said.
In August, King presented Chaffee Neighborhood Civic Association President Lyle Voyles a letter of appreciation for his hard work in maintaining an active neighborhood association. Although COVID-19 forced them to postpone in-person meetings, Voyles stayed active in his role and continued to foster the group’s strong partnership with HPD.
When the CROs form a relationship with citizens where they feel comfortable to tell them about issues impacting their communities, that allows us to better serve them.”
Extra eyes and ears
When groups like the Chaffee Neighborhood Civic Association forge relationships with HPD, CROs can stay on top of citizen concerns, set up meetings and increase public outreach. HCWA President Rheajoela Caldwell agrees.
“Through countless volunteer hours since 1976, Community Watch has provided an extra set of eyes and ears for the police department,” she said. “When the community relations team was developed in 2000 under then Sgt. Mark Roberts, the unit quickly understood the importance of educating the public on quality-of-life issues and how making improvements in these areas would reduce incidents of neighborhood crime.”
HCWA’s partnership with HPD has resulted in a variety of programing, including, “Why Police Do What They Do,” Breakfast with the Chief and various holiday events. CROs also teach classes about responding to an active shooter and crime prevention through environmental design.
“The officers in this unit are hardworking and motivated individuals who strive to help anyone in the community,” Davis said. “If you see one of these officers at City Council meetings, town halls or other community events, we hope you introduce yourself to our team, so we can get to know about you and your community.”