FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s serving the community where the people are. Every shift, every day, Fort Wayne police officers will try to work community oriented policing into their routine.
“When the officers stop, they’re stopping to talk to people to give the community a voice and then reacting to what they need,” Deputy Chief Mitch McKinney, who works in FWPD’s southeast quadrant and Community Relations Division, said. “Sometimes it’s kids out playing and sometimes it’s folks sitting on their porch. They just stop when they’re in-between runs and say, ‘Hey. Is there anything I can do for you today?’ That’s the best part about community oriented policing; it’s about the community.”
15 Finds Out went through the police Activity Log for all of this year to see how often officers are on community policing runs. When an officer stops to talk to someone, they will alert dispatch to put them down as on a community oriented policing call. In the chart below, ‘COP’ stands for Community Oriented Policing.
|MONTH||COP CALLS||TOTAL CALLS||PERCENTAGE|
To get an idea of what community policing looks like, 15 Finds Out rode along with Fort Wayne Officer Chris McBride. He’s been an officer for seven years and on Fort Wayne’s department since 2018. He tries to find opportunities every shift to stop and talk to people in his patrolling district.
“We’re trying to make a positive deposit into the bank every day,” he said. “That bank is the community we’re serving. The more deposits we’re making, the less that’s coming out and we want to grow that pot, if you will. Once we get to the point where we can build that trust back up, I think the circle will be complete and that is ultimately what we’re looking for.”
While WANE 15 was with Officer McBride, he spotted a car with its hood up in the zoo’s parking lot. He checked the oil for the woman, who said the car was showing a ‘low oil’ warning light. The oil was full, but he gave her a number to call if she needed further assistance.
We also noticed a young boy riding a scooter down the sidewalk. He stopped, tossed the scooter in the grass and sat down. Officer McBride stopped to see if he was okay.
“I like to talk to kids when I can,” he said.
The boy, who was home from school on quarantine, was waiting for his younger brother to get off the school bus.
While Officer McBride was stopped at the corner talking with the boy, another woman came up to him with concerns about the safety of the bus stopping at that intersection.
“I was able to reassure her that we’re out here listening. Maybe we can get additional officers out there to encourage people to slow down or make those stops if people are ignoring the bus signals,” McBride said. “People want to know that they’re being heard and listened to and regardless of the rhetoric about the police going on right now, we’re still going to be here. If you need us, call us. We’re more than willing to help.”
Marissa Brewer said McBride being at the bus stop that day was ‘heaven sent.’
“Don’t be afraid to talk to them. I just walked up on him and he’s a very nice gentleman and he listened to my concerns and waited until my child got off the bus. I think that’s fantastic,” Brewer said. “Don’t wait for them to come to you. You go talk to them. In today’s world, I don’t care how bad you don’t like them, if you’re in trouble, you’re going to call them. So be nice to them. They’ve got families too.”
Community oriented policing isn’t new, but in a time when tensions can be high between police and their communities, it can break down the barriers.
“We understand it won’t happen overnight but it’s these continuous small positive interactions we’re having with people that will eventually give people a better perspective to reach out to us,” Officer McBride said. “I have to understand other people’s interactions with police in the past may not have been positive and that may be difficult for me to immediately change. But, what I can change, is them having a positive interaction with me and maybe that’s the start of changing that negative rhetoric we’re hearing today.”