Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fresno police befriend residents

According to The Washington Post, police in Fresno, CA, have adopted "community-policing" instead of the zero tolerance policy which leads to mass arrests in other cities. The initiative began in 2002 when police reached out to clergy in high crime areas. Then they held a block party to build relationships with young kids. Residents were suspicious at the first party, but police now host more than 20 parties each year and have earned citizen support. For example, when a woman was killed in a neighborhood controlled by a gang, everyone knew who did it. In the past, nobody would talk. This time a tipster trusted police enough to call and the suspect was quickly arrested. A few weeks later, at another block party, police began disbanding that gang.

Thea Goodman takes selfie with Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer at block party.   (Washington Post)

Today, the police block parties are planned by teenage volunteers who meet at police headquarters regularly. This frees officers to grill hot dogs and let kids sit in a police cruiser. Said one teen volunteer, "When I used to see a cop, I'd feel nervousness. Now I want to become a police officer."

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