A push to prevent crime before it happens by fostering relationships between police officers and students is the latest program being planned by the Department of Public Safety.
The Team Community Oriented Policing Program deviates from traditional policing philosophy and focuses instead on pro-active, problem solving efforts involving all members of the community, DPS Sgt. Pat Alessi said. “This is the new direction of community policing,” said Alessi, architect and coordinator of the TCOP program.
The campus will be divided into three districts: Adam District, south of South University Avenue and west of State Street; Charles District, including Medical, North and East campuses; and Baker District, encompassing all areas between the Adam and Charles districts.
Each district will be assigned about nine officers and its own problem-solving team comprised of DPS officers, staff and students. The goal, Alessi said, will be to involve students and staff in preventing and solving crime in their community. In addition to the monthly meeting of the problem-solvers, quarterly “town hall” meetings open to everyone will be held in each district.
Alessi said he wants students and officers to know each other by name, making for a friendlier campus. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Alessi said of the new program. But some students, such as LSA freshman Rohit Kakar is skeptical about and suspicious of the new program. “I don’t know if I want (police) to know me by name,” he said.
But Kakar added, “I’m not going to prejudge their program. It is up to them to provide the results.”
Others, such as LSA freshman Ricardo Bolanzo, expressed confidence in the program. “It sounds like a good idea,” Bolanza said. “I say go for it.”
Whatever students’ reactions to the program may be, Alessi said the new organization plan will get the job done. “It does reduce crime,” Alessi said. “The Pontiac police went to it and so did Bay City.”
Don Gracey, executive assistant to Pontiac’s City police chief, said the program has indeed been successful at reducing crime in Pontiac.
“We are trying to encourage people to join” the problem-solving teams, Alessi said. “The police can only do so much. They (the students) need to be a part of our team.”