NORWALK, Conn. – If you’re one of those people who think Norwalk Police need more feet on the street you’re in luck – Chief Thomas Kulhawik is taking a step in that direction.
Warmer weather has brought the debut of Hot-Spot Patrols, an idea Kulhawik got from the Sacramento (Calif.) Police Department, he said. The enhanced community policing initiative means that police patrols are going to be less predictable, thus giving those with criminal activity on their minds something else to think about.
Officers have begun randomly parking their patrol cars and walking areas they have identified as Hot Spots, according to a NPD Facebook post.
“In addition, we believe having officers patrol on foot will increase positive interaction with the community,” the Facebook post reads. “These patrols will also be utilized in areas with high foot traffic such as Washington Street and similar areas throughout the city.”
The theory is that even just 12 to 16 minutes of highly visible police activity can lower the crime rate in a “hot spot,” the online Community Police Dispatch says. Sacramento Sgt. Renee Mitchell tested that idea in early 2011 and found that crime dropped 25 percent in those areas. Police productivity did not.
Other officers continued policing in their usual way as a control group. Crime went up in those areas, the website says. The study further showed that the Sacramento Police Department saved a significant amount of money through the initiative, costs associated with crime.
Kulhawik read about it in Police Chief magazine, he said in an email. “It has been in the works for several months and now, with our new bid May 1st and the warmer weather, we are pushing it amongst the officers,” he said. (Officers bid for new patrol shifts each quarter, he said.)
New police officers are being asked to spend two weeks walking a beat after they complete their field training and before they are assigned to a motorized patrol beat, Kulhawik said.
The Facebook post said, “We believe this will allow residents and business owners to get to know the officers and for the officers to better assimilate into the community they will be serving.”