August 4 2021
Effective crime control requires community participation. Community members are the eyes and ears in neighborhoods, essential to identifying potential issues. An active off-duty program presents a great opportunity to strengthen community engagement.
Creates a more visible presence
A robust off-duty program provides more opportunities for officers to establish a “felt presence.” A greeting in the grocery store, at church, or at the mall goes a long way toward reminding people of the service and value officers provide. In a recent, nationwide poll, more than 70% of respondents said they would be more likely to visit a store or venue that has onsite security. They appreciate seeing officers and feel more at ease with an officer present, whether they’re on or off duty.
Further exhibits officer’s servant spirit
The mere presence of off-duty officers sends a subtle message. Officers choose to serve even when they are not required to. They could have other “side jobs” to subsidize their income, but they choose extra duty because they’re passionate about protecting and serving. This servant-leader positioning and mindset can enhance public trust by demonstrating that the protection of others is an officer’s mission in life.
Opens the line of communication within the community
A lot of law enforcement agencies are striving for improved information flow through community policing following a tumultuous 2020. Being available and seen in the community is a solid way to build trust, make officers approachable, and open lines of communication. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to call attention to crime if there was a police officer or security on site. If police are there, people will engage.
Supports overall well being
Encourage officers to view off-duty as an opportunity to engage with the community, build trust, and support the vitality of communities. This sense of ownership and responsibility makes a difference in how officers approach their off-duty opportunities. Quality of life has to be the end game all are striving for and recognizing the ability every member of the force has to contribute to that goal, even when working off duty, is an important mindset.
When citizens feel safe and businesses are protected the whole community benefits. Off-duty work can be a valuable component of the community engagement effort.
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