Justice Department will assess local 'community policing' strategies

The U.S. Department of Justice has chosen the Columbus Police Department for a program that assesses “community policing” policies and suggests ways to improve, city officials announced today.

The Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) will send representatives to Columbus in January to look over three aspects of how the department operates: community partnerships, organizational transformation and problem solving.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who sought the assessment, said it will help fulfill a commitment made to the citizens when the 2008 Other Local Option Sales Tax was promoted with the promise of “an effective community policing component to our law enforcement efforts.”

“While our police department does a great job with community outreach through neighborhood watch programs and the like, we have not yet effectively adopted community policing strategies into our patrol systems,” Tomlinson said, adding that she and Chief Ricky Boren have worked on the concept for almost a year.

“We have already taken steps to improve community policing efforts through enhanced technology,” Boren said. “We continue to work on efforts related to geographic assignment of officers, patrol structure and training policies, for instance.”

Corey Ray, who works for the COPS program said representatives will come to Columbus in January to conduct a survey and assess department structure and policies.

“We will be looking at the police department’s operations and its community policing history and programs,” Ray said. The information gathered will be turned over to Tomlinson and Boren “for their use in updating or improving their community policing strategies.”