When Greenwich was hit with a string of thefts from cars recently, the town's Community and Police Partnership was instrumental in getting the word out to residents so they could take precautions. Helping the police department fight crime by improving its relationship with residents was exactly the reason the Partnership was formed six years ago, according to Community Impact Officer Keith Hirsch. It also has improved the flow of information the other way, Hirsch said.
"Our relationship with the community because of these [CAPP] groups has really changed for the better," said Hirsch. "We have people who aren't afraid to come forward and divulge information about criminal activity in their town. In the past it wasn't like that."
"Years ago," Hirsch continued, "when police officers could afford to live in the communities where they worked, there was a better connection." But that changed and eventually the department recognized that "we were no longer as connected as we used to be with the community," he said.
The Community and Police Partnership began in November 2004 both to rebuild that connection and as a way to help police identify community concerns. Groups representing the north, east and west parts of town were established to coincide with police patrol sectors.
"The group forms a focus group with residents and business owners within the community, which becomes the eyes and ears with us on the street and provides us with information that may lead to a narcotics arrest or mail fraud," said Hirsch. "It's been highly successful."
The groups meet monthly with community impact officers at the police station. Hirsch is the liaison officer for the west sector. Officer Daniel Palidino covers the east sector and Officer Michael Rooney the north sector.
Through meetings and e-mails, members also help disseminate police information to the public. "With putting information out there about what we're looking for and what's happening ... that e-mail is getting spread far beyond our members," said Hirsch.
Rooney said the CAPP network is also a major supporter of the department's "Project Lifesaver" initiative, which was first suggested by a community member. The project uses radio wave location devices to find kids with autism or adults with Alzheimer's who have wandered off. "We were able to get the word out about this program with the assistance of the CAPP groups," he said."
Residents interested in joining CAPP or seeking more information should contact Sgt. Michael Reynolds at (203) 618-8308 or by e-mail .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.