The San Luis Obispo Police Department is adopting a new policy toward neighborhood enforcement that it hopes will put officers in closer touch with the citizens they serve.
Effective immediately, the department is enacting a “Neighborhood Officer Program,” which promises to dedicate patrol officers to certain districts to “address city neighborhood issues,” according to a city press release.
The department will segment the city into 13 distinct “neighborhoods.” Officers assigned to each slice will act as respective liaisons between the department, the community, and the many city agencies. The department says the officers will assist with “public education, crime prevention, and neighborhood-specific problems” and coordinate other services to “ensure a professional response to the citizens of San Luis Obispo.”
“The intent is connecting with people and finding where those certain problems lie,” SLOPD Cpt. Chris Staley told New Times. “As it was, every time you called a dispatcher, you were going to get a different officer responding to calls for service. Now, the hope is that people are going to get to know the officer or officers that are going to respond.”
Staley said the idea is the result of months of planning and talks with the Parks and Recreation Department, which was looking for a little more “connectivity” with repeat problems.
The city has already assigned two officers as its “Community Action Team,” tasked with familiarizing themselves with repeat low-level offenders and linking them to other city services that may fit their needs. The Neighborhood Officer Program is more or less an extension of that, Staley said.
He added that officers were able to select the neighborhoods with which they felt the most familiar.
“This program is one of multiple initiatives intended to increase SLOPD’s connectivity with the community we serve,” Chief Steve Gesell wrote in a release. “The Neighborhood Officer Program is especially important as it offers residents and business owners a personal option when police assistance is needed and an immediate response isn’t needed.