By: Megan Crider
When looking up case studies for my thesis (the design of a police station in my hometown of Marion, IL – I am also focusing on community outreach), I found some interesting examples. Not only did I find some great precedence with police station design, I also found a couple of unique examples of community programs that directly involve the interaction between citizens and the police force. I will briefly describe my findings below.
New Orleans, Louisiana is divided into eight police districts. The eighth district, which includes the French Quarter, Central Business District, and Bourbon Street, also includes a citizens’ organization, called COPS – Citizens’ Organization for Police Support. To show appreciation for the police force, a group of citizens formed this non-profit group in 2002, along with the 8th District Police, that “establish[ed] support and mutual understanding between the officers and the community.” Their mission since has been “to support and improve the quality of life for the 8th District Officers, which in turn enhances the security and safety of all 8th District citizens.”
The organization helps to provide needed essential items and equipment to the 8th District that is not supplied by the City of New Orleans to any police district, including helmets, scooters, supplies, computers, printers, station renovations, furniture, air conditioners, and other items. In order to supply the district with these items, COPS accepts citizen donations and holds fundraisers, including selling different types of NOPD (New Orleans Police Department) and COPS merchandise.
Additionally, the COPS participate with the 8th District Police Officers in Community Anti-Crime Walks. These events provide opportunities for the citizens and police officers to meet and interact with one another and to reinforce the message that crime fighting and violence prevention is a joint effort between the citizens and police. During this event, Crimestoppers information and pamphlets are handed out to help inform the public.
The City of New Orleans also has eight Police Community Advisory Boards (PCABs), one for each district, that consist of representatives from the community of the given district. The purpose is to engage in a “collaborative problem-solving process that supports both the community and the police department’s desire to enhance public safety.” This is an “effort to reduce crime and to enhance the quality of life for all citizens through positive and open communication.” The PCAB do not make any decisions regarding the Police Department’s finances, policies, or practices. Instead, this provides citizens with a platform to directly engage with District Commanders and other executives with the goal of understanding and informing the community about NOPD practices and policies. The PCAB gives the citizens a voice within the community, as they can recommend, discuss, and suggest public issues and priorities with the NOPD. The PCAB assists NOPD in “establishing the highest standards for police accountability and therefore, increase the public’s trust.”