Police plan series of community meetings as part of switch to ‘neighborhood policing’

A planned shift in focus by the Palm Springs Police Department will start with a series of town hall type meetings next week.

A planned shift in focus by the Palm Springs Police Department will start with a series of town hall-type meetings next week.

“The police spend their day pulling people out of rivers, infrequently going upstream to stop them from falling into the swift waters,” Police Chief Andy Mills wrote Monday, referencing a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “Palm Springs police intend to prevent those on the bank from falling in the river by implementing Neighborhood Policing and problem-solving.”

The approach, sometimes called community policing, has been around since the 1980s. It is designed to prevent crime before it happens rather than responding to crime after it occurs by encouraging both officers and community members to form closer bonds. That is often accomplished by assigning officers to always work in specific neighborhoods.

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During the hour-long community meetings next week, Mills and others from the department will explain the approach, seek community input, and share data about what types of calls for service police are responding to in each neighborhood. They also plan to solicit feedback from those in attendance about what unique issues they may be facing.

Police hope the result will be a shift in focus, allowing police to spend less time scattered throughout the city and more time making “a laser-focused effort on specific problems” that they hope will reduce crime rates and increase public safety.

“Each day when our officers go into the field, they need a clearly defined focus,” Mills said. “Without a central focus, their day becomes random, call-driven, and tedious.

“Unfortunately, for too many police agencies, the radio sets the strategy. Plucking people from the river is the default strategy. Often, we are too busy saving people in the river to give serious thought to reducing crime upstream.”

The meetings, which Palm Springs City Council members will also attend, start at 4 p.m. They are planned for the following dates and places:

  • February 15: Victoria Park, 2744 N. Via Miraleste
  • February 16: Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros
  • February 17: Cahuilla Elementary School, 833 E. Mesquite Ave.
  • February 18: Palm Springs High School, 2401 E. Baristo Road
  • February 19: Demuth Park, 4200 E. Mesquite Ave.

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