Early next year, COPS will be coming to Columbus. No, not new officers for the city's police force, but representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Service. It's a federal program that assesses ways local law enforcement can better engage and coordinate with citizens.
Community policing is defined on the program's website (www.cops.usdoj.gov) as "collaborative partnerships between the law enforcement agency and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in police."
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the Columbus Police Department's participation is part of the city's commitment to citizens who approved the 2008 Local Option Sales Tax, most of which was earmarked for public safety. Then-Mayor Jim Wetherington said the revenue would be used for 100 new police officers, a crime prevention office and improvement in community policing.
Police Chief Ricky Boren said he welcomes the opportunity to "talk to them about best practices, not only in Columbus, but things that they know that work in other cities."
Some of those best practices described on the COPS website include "creative thinking, a proactive orientation, communication and analytical skills, and techniques for dealing with quality-of-life concerns and maintaining order." The program encourages stronger ties with other law enforcement agencies as well as businesses, schools, social services, faith communities and other individuals and organizations with strong local and neighborhood connections.
Columbus police already have some well-received community outreach efforts in place, such as DARE and department involvement with neighborhood watch organizations. Still, any improvement in the relationship between police and the people they are sworn to serve and protect can only help make a tough job better, and a community safer.
Local attorney, Vietnam War veteran and former Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff has distinguished himself in multiple fields both public and private. The most recent is recognition as one of four U.S. Army War College outstanding alumni, described in a statement by War College Foundation CEO Ruth B. Collins as "graduates who distinguished themselves through outstanding achievement to their community or country."
Poydasheff more than qualifies in both categories. A 24-year Army vet who retired with the rank of colonel, he has for years been one this community's most active and visible presences in private law practice, in public service as an elected official, and in civic organizations both military and civilian. He is eminently worthy of such high-level recognition.