Image by Flickr user Rob!Image by 20080811police.jpg Police around the U.S., and here in Charleston, are being urged to get out of their cars and get friendly with the people in the community.
Charleston police officers are returning to the walking beat as a way to interact more with the community, particularly since gas prices have gotten so high. The Post and Courier has a great new feature on the development, along with video coverage.
The idea is that foot patrols allow officers to talk to people and be more of a part of the community, something that isn't easy to do inside of a police cruiser. The Charleston Police Department started implementing the patrols last year, the newspaper says, but as gas prices have risen, foot patrols have increased in order to save on fuel costs.
From The Post and Courier:
A walk through surrounding streets put the patrol supervisor face-to-face with carefree families, friendly restaurateurs and sightseeing tourists. Instead of passing by at 30 mph, he exchanged nods with vendors, chatted with carriage-tour operators and gave a motorist directions. Like the rest of Charleston's finest, (Sgt. Jason) Emanuele was under strict orders: "Walk and talk."
"It's a way to reduce that steel and glass barrier we're in," Emanuele said as he began his shift Thursday afternoon. "It gives them the ability to walk up to us in an informal environment."
And it's not just locally that you can see this happening. The New York Times ran an article last month on an increase in foot patrols nationwide to counter rising gas prices, particularly in the South:
“The average officer thinks that if they’re constantly on the move, they’re doing a better job of preventing an incident from occurring,” said Chief Ric Moss of Woodstock, Ga. “Candidly some of them have said, ‘Well, gee, you know, it’s hot out there.’ Well, if you go in that store, you’ll cool off, you’ll get to know the manager and you’ll get your presence known. We’ve had to educate them as to the benefits.”
And if you have any thoughts to share with the Charleston Police Department, on this or any other issue, they have an online public satisfaction survey.