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Posted on October 13, 2016 at 1:35 PM by Yvonne Martinez
By: Chief Mike Cantaloupe
I was honored to once again participate in the Mayor’s Community Summit which was held on September 8th. This year’s theme focused on engaging citizens to create a safer community. I was pleased to see a respectable turnout. More than 50 residents and business owners attended. We heard from a panel of experts that included faith leaders, educators and civil rights advocates. As chief of police for the city I recognize the importance of community dialogue. I wanted to also educate our audience about the successful programs we’ve implemented in our agency and solicit ideas for how we can do even better.
In 2015 a federal task force comprised of mayors, law enforcement leaders and government officials outlined recommendations for what is now called “21st Century Policing”. These guidelines ask law enforcement and city leaders throughout the United States to create listening opportunities, transparency in implementing recommendations, community surveys and dialogue, define form and structure for civilian oversight and link economic development to long term policing plans to reduce crime. These recommendations are the core of what the Cocoa Police Department is already doing and has been doing for more than ten years with an emphasis on community oriented policing.
The dialogue with our citizens during this community summit was extremely engaging. I heard from health care professionals about how law enforcement needs a better understanding of mental health issues and how they influence the potential for criminal behavior and violence in our communities. I heard from business owners who wanted a better understanding of the city’s crime data. I also heard from faith leaders about how we can improve our community policing approach. There were suggestions that included foot patrols in local neighborhoods where officers can have conversation with residents and simply get to know them better. We do this frequently through town hall meetings, community watch meetings and local events but the one on one approach in our neighborhoods is a good idea.
We have moved significantly forward in the right direction. Our community policing efforts have gained international attention with a feature on the Korean Broadcast System. The implementation of bodycams for our patrol officers has improved transparency and accountability. Our faith leaders roundtable works to keep us in touch with the heart and soul of our community and we are making a positive impact in so many ways.
Let’s keep the conversation going. My door is open and I am always here to listen and address concerns. I’m encouraged by the feedback, participation and willingness to come together to find solutions.