The Sioux Falls Police Department is taking the initiative to meet with residents in four segments of the city. Officers want to know issues people see and ideas for how to solve the problems. The meetings are part of a long-term goal that improves communication between everyday people and authorities.
Sioux Falls police patrol the city based on quadrants. Officers and higher leadership are assigned to one section of town. Police Chief Doug Barthel says this local approach lets authorities meet citizens and build trust.
“People that live in their neighborhoods have ownership in that, and they really have a sense of pride in their neighborhood and want to make sure that the area they live in is safe and a good place to raise their family and live in, and it’s no different for the officers that are assigned to those areas,” Barthel says. “They really take ownership in them, and it’s not an area that they report to eight hours a day and then go home, could care less about the rest of the day and the time.”
Barthel says that investment from officers and residents is the foundation for effective communication.
“I think there are maybe occasions where people would like to talk to police, but sometimes they feel like they don’t want to bother us, they don’t want to call 911 or call at other times, so this is going to give them a real relaxed atmosphere and time to do that,” Barthel says.
Officers, detectives and supervisors plan to attend meetings next week for the quadrants they serve. Captain Rich Miller says the gatherings are opportunities.
“A chance for us to talk what is going on in the area as we see it, some of the problems and issues that we see in these areas of town and some of the solutions we’ve developed for those problems and issues, and a chance for the public to give us some feedback also on what they view the problems and issues are in their area of town – maybe something that we haven’t recognized yet or seen or they may have a different priority with some of the issues that are going on, and give us a chance to reprioritize or even come up with some different solutions through some feedback that we can get from the public,” Miller says.
Authorities say improving the relationship between law enforcement and people who live in the city can decrease crime and increase people’s confidence.