LIMA — The Lima Police Department is looking to bring back a discontinued program in the hopes that it will help improve community relations.
During Monday’s city finance committee meeting, Chief Kevin Martin requested an additional $226,000 be added to the department’s 2015 budget to fund three new police officer positions in the department, with those positions to be dedicated to community-oriented policing, along with a new sergeant position to oversee the program.
These three officers would each be assigned to two crime “hot spots” in the city, including such areas as the Riverside North and Midway East neighborhoods, areas around Brice and Collett streets as well as Fourth Street and St. John’s Avenue. “It’s a philosophy that combines traditional aspects of law enforcement with prevention measures, problem-solving and community engagement,” Martin said. “It involves relationship building within the community.”
These positions would be filled by experienced officers, with new officers hired to replace them on patrol duties. Martin hopes that having experienced officers familiar with the various neighborhoods within the city will foster better relationships with community members.
“Someone may not want to come to the Police Department to talk with us, but as they get to know the neighborhood officers and feel more comfortable with them, they may be more inclined to go to the neighborhood police officer and talk with them,” Martin said.
With recent national events highlighting tensions between police and community members, Martin would like to see that trend reversed in Lima.
“I would not want to live in a community where I could not trust the men and women who have sworn to protect and serve me,” he said.
Members of the finance committee spoke favorably about the program during the meeting.
“Residents appreciate that personal touch,” 4th Ward Councilman Tom Tebben said. “We have to commit to a long-term strategy of supporting this.”
“I personally endorse it and support it,” 5th Ward Councilwoman Teresa Adams said. “I hated to see it go away when it did and it would be nice to see it come back.”
If the additional funding would be approved, Martin anticipates it would be about six to eight months before these new positions would be filled.