By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(Nov. 21, 2019) The Berlin Police Department is working to strengthen the bonds between law enforcement and residents by working with organizations throughout the community, according to a recently released Berlin Community Policing Program.
“The program emphasizes … interacting with community partners where they live, work and play to enhance open and free exchange of thought,” the report stated. According to the 2019 report, there were 14 sworn police officers and five non-sworn police officers within the Berlin Police Department.
Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing said the community policing program has been between 1995 and 2000. He added that working with governmental, religious institutions, businesses, and non-profit groups across Berlin and Worcester County helps to make Berlin a safer place.
Downing underscored the importance of having community organizations and local businesses involved. These include Atlantic General Hospital, Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, the Berlin Community Improvement Association, The Church Mouse, Baked Dessert Cafe, Burbage Funeral Home, Victorian Charm, and Main Street Deli, according to the report.
Downing also said that working with area churches allowed law enforcement and community groups to work together to address problems including homelessness and hunger.
Representatives from Buckingham Presbyterian Church made bags of food, water, socks, and personal hy- giene items, according to the report. Officers would then keep several bags in their vehicles for those in need. There is a food pantry and weekly meal at Stevenson United Methodist Church, according to the report.
“Senior Officer [Claude] Holland proposed the idea of delivering food boxes to those at a local send assisted living community with no access to transportation,” the report stated. According to the report, those food deliveries have since increased to 12 to 15 boxes per delivery day.
Responding to the report, Town Councilman Zack Tyndall said he was pleased with the department’s progress in fostering bonds with the community.
“The police department doesn’t always get the opportunity to respond when things are going well, so having that good community relationship before that call comes out with some sense of urgency, I think allows them to build a rapport with the citizens that they’re protecting so when it comes to that time in need you’re not just talking to a police officer hopefully you’re talking to a friend, someone that’s been an integral part in your community,” Tyndall said.
Tyndall said he’s seen the relationships between area residents and law enforcement move in a positive direction in recent years. Tyndall added that in 2020, he’d like to focus on increasing the number of police officers in the department.
As for next year, Downing said he hopes to look for new partners, as well as continue strengthening the relationships with community partners, residents and visitors. He also said he’d like to maintain involvement and participation in events as well as work as a liaison for interested participants.
“We’re a sounding board, and we’re just that conduit because again they don’t know how to reach the people sometimes and we definitely know how to do that,” Downing said.