The Lafayette Police Department is implementing a new program that puts the officers in the community, not making arrests or patrolling, rather, being a part of the community they serve.
LPD’s new Chief of Police Thomas Glover says the program will help the public know who their officers are, understand them, and make contacts within the community.
All 287 LPD officers must now take time out of their week to serve in the community.
Although no number of hours has been set for an officer to perform with the public, officers must submit a document weekly letting the department know what they did.
Glover believes this is a work in progress.
“At the end of the year, we’ll see the fruits of our labor,” he said. “We think it’ll go a long way in building trust, practicing what we call 21st century policing.”
He says it could be anything from coaching a little league team to knocking on an elderly person’s door to make sure they’re okay.
“That act alone might take five minutes to perform by an officer,” said Chief Glover. “But it's worth hundreds, maybe thousands of hours to the community and the department.”
This initiative comes after a year of mistrust between the public and the police following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Trayford Pellerin in Lafayette, who died at the hands of police.
Former NAACP President in Lafayette Marja Broussard says people are ready to let police into their communities after previous LPD administrations have created a distance between the public and officers.
“We would welcome law enforcement into our community to get to know us, work with us, as we work together to create a safer environment for all our citizens.”
Community activist Joshua Edmond says overall, it’s a positive start because officers will learn the context of communities.
“I think it’s a start. I don’t think it’s enough because there are more things that have to be done,” he explained. “They get to know the situation, get to know the struggle, get to know the story on what's going on. Sometimes someone’s doing something and they don’t know the back story so I think it’s a positive.”
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