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August 22, 2019
12:33 AM

Patrol Division  
Community Policing  

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            Community Policing is a concept involving a partnership between the community and the police department. The underlying intent is to resolve usually localized problems with input from both the community as well as the police. Community Policing however should, and in Mahwah does, go beyond that basic premise.


            Within the police department we realize the need and practicality of a proactive approach to our responsibilities. By getting involved with various factions of the residential as well commercial neighborhoods in town, we hope to inform and educate the public in ways that can promote safety, security, and an improved quality of life for all those whose lives are affected by daily occurrences in Mahwah. Sometimes there is no alternative other than strict enforcement of the law however, in many cases equally positive results can be achieved by other means.


            There are actually two parts to our community policing efforts. The first is the tenet that Community Policing is a philosophy to be embraced by all members of the department as a part of their day-to-day operations. Taking an interest beyond what one would normally consider to be traditional responsibilities is essential. Officers must be willing to engage in thoughts and activities that would not normally be considered "police work". Referrals to agencies outside of law enforcement are one example. Providing literature or other info germane to a specific problem may be in order. Calling a plumber and perhaps shutting off the gas to a defective hot water heater for a senior citizen is yet a third scenario.


            There are many ways that the police department reaches out to the public even before or without being called for a specific problem. Press releases dealing with issues such as crime prevention or safety issues are one way. Presentations to neighborhood organizations and/or civic groups are utilized as well. Safety presentations in schools are common. Neighborhood Watch meetings are yet another method. Allowing access to the police department by means of direct interaction between the public and representatives of the department is essential to good police-community communication and ultimately positive police-community relations. We tell our children that "the police officer is our friend". Community Policing seeks to bolster that assertion. We are not a secret society and when the public realizes that it serves everyone for the better.




            Presentations on an array of topics are made to neighborhood and civic groups throughout the year. Such presentations may be made by members of the investigative unit or officers actively working within the Community Policing unit. Often a talk by an officer is requested by a neighborhood group such as a condo association and there is usually a specific problem to be addressed. By the time the session has ended the range of discussion has gone well beyond its initial intent. Several other problems may have been addressed. Newer residents may learn some useful information about the area and its available services. It's a genuinely positive give-and-take between the police and the community.


            Presentations are sometimes made at the request of civic groups as well. One such talk was given to a church-sponsored group of Asian women immigrants. The officer spoke on basic topics such as traffic laws and how to get a driver's license. It is information taken for granted by natives but useful to individuals new to our country as they begin assimilation into our society.


            Our senior citizens are a portion of our society who often need and unarguably deserve special attention. Many of our seniors are self-sufficient. Others are not; victims of failing health as well as loneliness. As if loneliness itself wasn't bad enough, an ugly side-effect is that it increases elderly person’s chances of becoming a victim of fraud. Eager to interact with anyone who devotes a little time to them, many seniors fall right into the traps of confidence people. The problem can be compounded when persons living on fixed incomes as many seniors are, are lured to the promise of money or other "rewards" for free. The Community Policing unit made presentations to senior groups on frauds and con games to educate them our elderly in the ways of con artists so that they may be less likely to be victimized.

For questions or concerns regarding community Policing contact Lt. Scott Cherven at scherven@mahwahpd.org

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