Over the past several years, a distinctive push has been towards more community-based policing. Community members are turning to law enforcement for support in their daily lives in addition to their usual response to emergencies. Part of Community Policing involves understanding the community itself – who is included? What are their values? Who needs extra help? SafeEncounter is a Community Safety Database designed to bolster Community Policing efforts by giving officers better access to critical information on the community’s most vulnerable members. Let’s take a look at the Community Policing movement in general, as well as how SafeEncounter can help.

What is Community Policing?

A police officer holds a young child in one arm while fist bumping an adult in a passing vehicle

At its core, Community Policing is a relatively new law enforcement model that focuses on partnering with the community to solve problems that are public safety issues. For example, officers may spend time at town meetings to hear complaints directly from the people they serve. If an individual mentions seeing more coyotes in the area, Community Police will work with the town to develop a plan to remove this new risk. The difference between traditional policing and Community Policing is the difference between a monologue and a dialogue. Whereas Law Enforcement Agencies can make their own rules and to-dos, Community Police converse with those they serve to prioritize challenges. People living in a town or jurisdiction will be the first to identify a problem. By listening to these folks, police can be proactive against crime and safety issues rather than reactive.

Why is Community Policing Becoming Popular?

Since the idea of Community Policing was first introduced, it has been a hot topic. Recently, we’ve been hearing about it more and more due to unfortunate events involving entire communities, Law Enforcement, conduct, etc. By encouraging officers to get involved with the district, they form connections with those within it. This makes it easier to work hard to keep everyone safe because they built relationships. In addition, many communities realize that preventing crime is far more valuable than reacting to crime. While it’s crucial to have police who are dedicated to solving crimes that have been committed, the goal of Community Policing is to reduce the likelihood of these crimes. As we mentioned before, if there’s a new coyote problem arising, Community Police officers can work with the town to eliminate the problem before any animals or people are attacked. Suppose there is a neighborhood in a high-crime area. In that case, Community Police can work with the community to create a security system to help to prevent break-ins rather than respond to them once someone’s home has already been broken into.. Listening to those with their boots on the ground gives police valuable time to keep crime out of their jurisdiction instead of waiting for it to happen and making changes to laws after the fact.

Examples of Community Policing

  • Encouraging the community to help prevent crime by providing advice, talking to students, and encouraging neighborhood watch groups
  • Increasing foot, bike, or mounted patrol for face-to-face communication options
  • Expecting more accountability and transparency from officers
  • Creating teams of officers to carry out community policing in designated neighborhoods
  • Listening to community concerns and working with them to develop a plan
  • Creating partnerships with other organizations such as government agencies, community members, nonprofit service providers, private businesses, and the media
  • Decentralizingpolice authority, allowing more discretion among lower-ranking officers, and more initiative expected from them
  • Keeping the community informed of any police programs designed to protect the area
Two community policing officers pose with a woman for the "Cookies With a Cop" event

Where Does SafeEncounter Come In?

SafeEncounter is a secure, digital Community Safety Database. It has become a talking point for Community Policing because it empowers officers to foster more positive relationships with the most vulnerable individuals they serve. SafeEncounter allows loved ones of dependent individuals to create a free profile that can only be accessed by authorized officers. These profiles contain all the information an officer will need to appropriately respond to situations involving the dependent.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how the SafeEncounter system works:

  • A loved one (or an officer with consent) creates a profile for a vulnerable dependent
    • This includes anyone with disabilities, cognitive impairments, severe mental health disorders, etc.
    • Autism, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Down’s Syndrome, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Non-Verbal Communication Styles, etc.
  • The loved ones provide all necessary information, including physical descriptions, photos, medical information, and emergency contacts
  • The family decides which participating Law Enforcement Agencies should have access to their profile
  • If the dependent is found wandering and is unable to communicate with officers, they can use the SafeEncounter database to try to identify the individual and contact their family.
    • Profiles also come in handy when an officer is responding to a call involving someone with known medical conditions which may make them act differently or require special accommodations. Police can review the profile and see what they should and should not do to de-escalate a situation
  • Profiles can be edited as needed to keep all information as updated as possible

SafeEncounter is a Community Policing tool because it can be used to prevent problems before they occur. Without profiles like these, officers might not know a person is Autistic and cannot be touched or someone has PTSD, and the flashing lights on the patrol vehicle might trigger them. SafeEncounter sets officers up for success by arming them with information before a situation arises. The community can trust responding officers will act accordingly based on the dependent’s needs, and the police can feel safe because they know what they’re walking into. There’s far less stress on both ends, resulting in more positive interactions.

We are very passionate about helping Law Enforcement build relationships with those they serve. SafeEncounter is a newer product, but it has proven to be a valuable tool. Our first customer had a “save” within the first week of having the system in place! A dependent wandered off and was located/returned home with the help of his profile on SafeEncounter. We have very high hopes for this tool and look forward to seeing more and more jurisdictions join us on the journey. To learn more about SafeEncounter and its features, head over to https://safeencounter.org/. As always, reach out to the team if you have any questions or would like to see SafeEncounter in action with a free demo.

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