Most people would be surprised to learn we really are both. International research shows that police work is 20% law enforcement and 80% social work. Today I’m proud to introduce you to two officers who are heavily involved in the social side of policing. Constables Aaron Head and Kathryn Willett are Community Response Officers in the Scotia Court area of Dartmouth and are this week’s guest bloggers.
As Community Response Officers (CRO) for the area known as Demetreous Lane, our approach to fighting crime is far from traditional. We often get asked, “So what does a CRO do?” As CRO’S, we work with the residents of a community and outside organizations to combat crime together. Our goal is to identify a problem, then collectively work on a solution. It’s essential that the residents recognize their strengths and affect change on their own will. Our role is unique because when we identify a problem, we look at the root cause. Root causes can be anything from a lack of food, no access to sports to keep youth engaged and off the streets, to something as basic as no money for medication. Once a root cause is found, we bring in outside organizations to assist.
We feel it’s important to be visible in uniform in our community, but it’s equally important to be seen as an average person. Residents know us as “Aaron and Kathryn” and accept us as being part of Demetreous Lane, which is very special to us. We want to be known as being approachable and unbiased.
Although our primary role as police officers will always be to uphold the law, we feel that having high visibility in our day-to-day duties helps foster good working relationships with people from outside the community. We connect with local schools, residents and business so that collectively we can be part of creating a safe, healthy and sustainable solution.
Some partnerships we have established are with First Baptist United Church, Demetreous Lane Tenants’ Association, District 9 Councillor Jim Smith, Dartmouth Recreation, Department of Justice and the United Way…just to name a few. Together we have a common goal – to promote education, leadership, respect, public safety and crime prevention within our community. The friendships that have been built have extended far beyond our community with other generous volunteers, schools and business organizations.
Without those partnerships, change couldn’t happen. Through these partnerships, we have seen great strides in community morale, crime and overall betterment. Our efforts to enhance the community, families and youth are all proactive approaches to policing and crime prevention.
There are far too many initiatives to mention here, but as a group we have done everything from securing school supplies for the kids, youth leadership training to hosting a community BBQ and kids’ soccer camps.
- Kathryn and Aaron
Kathryn and Aaron are too modest to tell you that they, along with their community partners, have won awards for their work. I’m inspired to hear of so many people coming together to help build community. I’m not sure if you noticed in Aaron and Kathryn’s story, but what moves me most is when they talk about ‘our community,’ not the community where they work. It’s clear to me this is far more than a job to them. Do you have any stories of people coming together to improve their community? I’d love to hear them.