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Community Services Unit 2013 Crime Prevention Evaluation

 

For a copy of this report in a pdf format, please click here.

Badge for JCC Police            In 2013, the Community Services Unit continued to work towards meeting its primary goals and objectives including effective implementation of the James City County Police Department’s crime prevention, community policing, and school education efforts. The goal of all Community Services programs, as described in the James City County Police Department Policy and Procedure Manual, is to improve community relations in order to realize the positive reinforcement provided by a confident and content community. To that end, the Community Services Unit works with all department personnel to provide services to our citizens that will reduce their fear of crime, and increase their confidence in the Police Department, in order to improve their quality of life. The Community Services Unit serves as a liaison to citizens, the business community, local civic organizations, and other county departments. To meet these diverse goals, the Community Services Unit is engaged in many activities.

            Once again the Community Services Unit offered VIN etching to the citizens of the community.  VIN etching is often seen as a deterrent to thieves because it not only makes it nearly impossible for thieves to profit from selling windows and windshields, but it also makes it more difficult for thieves to find a way to dispose of the vehicle once it has been stolen.

            August saw another great turnout for National Night Out with a total of 29 participating neighborhoods. National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. During 2013’s National Night Out, the Police Department along with several communities took part in an array of activities. These activities included: cookouts, ice cream socials, movie night, and neighborhood block parties all designed to promote the partnership between the police and the public.

            Neighborhood Watch remains a cornerstone of the activities of the Community Services Unit and is one of our highest priorities and continued to be the main focus of Community Services Unit activities in 2013.  Members of the Community Services Unit attended a total 45 Neighborhood Watch meetings. Not only did officers provide information on Neighborhood Watch at these meetings but crime prevention topics as well. Some of the crime prevention topics discussed at these meetings was larceny prevention, specifically larcenies from vehicles. As in years past, the County has an increase in larcenies from vehicles in the warmer months; although this is not always the case, as a citizen could be a victim of this at any point throughout the year. With that in mind, CSU actively speaks to citizens about the importance of locking their vehicles and removing valuables from the vehicle. A few of the other topics discussed at these meetings are burglary prevention, identity theft, credit card fraud, and personal safety.  CSU also has provided information at Neighborhood Watch meetings on raidsonline.com. This is a program that allows citizens to see the types of crime that have been reported in a particular area of the County.  The Community Services Unit will continue to work to generate interest in the Neighborhood Watch program as this is a very proactive program that will help our citizens protect themselves from crime.

            The Business Watch program continued to work cooperatively with the business community in order to organize business response to crime problems in the community.  Officers attended 17 Business Watch meetings and provided several crime prevention presentations to businesses throughout the year. The topics of these presentations included: shoplifting prevention, counterfeiting, robbery prevention, personal safety, and alarm responses. Business crime prevention education was also provided through Business Security Surveys that were conducted. The Business Security Survey is an important tool used by the Community Services Unit to educate business owners and employees on topics ranging from burglary and robbery prevention to shoplifting and employee theft. Successfully marketing our business crime prevention and education programs remains a priority for the department.

            Crime prevention education for citizens remains one of the top priorities of the Community Services Unit. Our most popular programs are specifically designed to inform and educate our citizens in the area of crime prevention. These programs include the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Program, Child ID, the Citizen’s Police Academy, and various specialty talks and presentations to specific groups. The RAD Program continues to be popular and successful with several classes offered in 2013. The department now also offers Advanced RAD classes along with RAD for kids. The Child ID program is also very popular and is requested at a number of community events throughout the year. This program provides the parents with a child ID, but it also presents an opportunity for officers to educate parents about strategies to prevent lost and missing children.

            In 2013, the Community Services Unit also provided gun safety classes to the citizens of the County. The class provides a basic safety demonstration on the proper handling of handguns. At the completion of the class citizens are also provided with gun safety locks, as well certificates of attendance. This class also meets the requirements for obtaining a concealed weapon permit. We provided this class to over 100 citizens in 2013. CSU also provides gun safety classes in the elementary schools as a means of educating children about the dangers of firearms.

            The Community Services Unit continues to provide services to assist the at risk populations in James City County. These programs target the elderly, the very young, and the non-English speaking population. Programs that were offered in 2013 for the elderly include participation in regional groups like TRIAD and SALT which both work to meet the special needs of the elderly. The Community Services Unit was asked by several of the County’s over 55 communities to come and speak to their residents in 2013. Numerous topics were discussed to include ID theft, fraud, and current crime trends just to name a few with 179 presentations conducted. We also provided extensive tours of the Law Enforcement Center to many of these communities. Project Lifesaver also remains one of our most vital programs, especially for our elderly population. Currently we have thirty two participants registered in the Project Lifesaver program. The Community Services Unit continues to reach out to the non-English speaking population. Even though we no longer have the Network for Latino Communities we still distribute crime prevention materials to numerous Hispanic communities. Much of this distribution takes place at the community events that we attend. We have also been able to provide crime prevention literature through the schools via the school resource officers, as well as the crime prevention officers in the elementary schools. Overcoming cultural differences and reaching the non-English speaking population is important in order to educate and inform these residents about the various crime prevention programs offered.  

            The School Resource Officers (SRO) working in the middle and high schools in James City County have provided comprehensive law enforcement services to the populations of those schools in addition to counseling students, teaching a myriad of classes, and serving on multiple committees working to improve the schools. A number of arrests were made in both the middle schools and high schools in 2013. The majority of these arrests were for drug and alcohol offenses, assaults, and disorderly conduct. Much of the School Resource officer’s time is utilized in conducting student interventions. In 2013, the SROs provided over 1100 student interventions.  Our SRO’s also provide presentations to the students and staff at the schools. In 2013, SROs presented topics covering a range of subjects to include: search and seizure, active shooter, drug and alcohol abuse, social media, to name a few. Social media is an issue that the SRO’s deal with regularly with the students. The SROs frequently receive calls from parents, students, and staff at the schools about social media postings. The SROs work tirelessly to intervene in issues before they become a serious problem.  Their job focuses on building relationships with students and they continue to do a fine job in this area.

            As part of educating the students on the dangers of drinking and driving, we provide the Every 30 Minute program in a local high school every year. In 2013, the program was held at Warhill High School. The School Resource Officers also utilize the SIDNE, the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience, to increase awareness about the consequences of dangerous behaviors like using illegal drugs and drinking and driving. The SIDNE has become so popular we now have numerous businesses and community groups requesting a demonstration. In 2013 we not only provide SIDNE to all three high schools, but also at events hosted by VDOT. Additionally, all 3 SROs in the high schools were honored by Get It Together Hampton Roads for their efforts regarding occupant safety and educating students about the dangers of texting while driving.   Although the middle schools no longer provide the GREAT program we were still able to provide middle school students with information on making right choices, as well as proper decision making. We offer the VA Rules program and it has been received very well in the middle schools. The GREAT program also continues in select elementary schools with a total of 354 participants completing the program during the 2012/2013 school year.  The high school SRO’s are active in the Police Explorer program. This program gives high school students who have shown an interest in law enforcement an opportunity to learn the different aspects of a police officer’s duties. The SRO at Toano Middle School also facilitates a Police Science Club with for middle school students who are not quite old enough to become an explorer but have an interest in law enforcement.  Many of the Police Science Club participants go on to become members of the Police Explorers.  Another program designed to improve the relationship between the police and youths is the COPS Camp.  The inaugural camp took place in 2013 and was considered to have been a huge success. 

            Community Services Officers were also involved in many other activities in 2013. One program that we took part in was the DEA prescription drug take back program. This program is sponsored by the Federal government with support from police agencies, both local and state throughout the country. The program is designed to reduce the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, and increase awareness of this critical public health issue. We were able to collect over 300 pounds of unused medication in 2013.

            Community Services also sponsored the 4th annual Project Lifesaver car show in 2013. The car show raises money for our Project Lifesaver program, as well as collects canned foods for donation to the Salvation Army. The car show made $3422 to go toward equipment for the James City County Project Lifesaver program. The car show also collected 6200 canned food items that were donated to the local Salvation Army. The Community Services Unit also provided Christmas to some of the County’s disadvantaged youth through the Shop with a Cop program. The Shop with a Cop program works with local businesses to provide this program. The Shop with a Cop program is funded by the annual shred-a-thon event. The Department accepts donations from citizens who are shredding outdated documents. The shred-a-thon is a twofold event; not only are monies being raised, but the event is also assisting against identity theft. By shredding documents that contain your name and other information it makes it difficult for identity thieves to steal your identity.  The Community Services Unit also provides bicycles to those in the community who may not be able to afford their own. Bicycles that are no longer wanted are donated to the Department and repaired. Once the bicycles are repaired we work with Social Services in locating persons who may need a bicycle. Many of the bicycles are given to children who, if not for this program would not be able to have a bike.

            The Department’s Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) continues to grow. We now have over 30 VIPs in the program. Our VIPS are extremely helpful at all of our events. They assist at many of the events to include assisting with child ID’s, the annual car show, and working the front desk at the Law Enforcement Center just to name a few. The VIPS also continue their overall education as many of them are alumni of the Department’s Citizens Police Academy. The VIPS’ monthly meetings are meant to provide more insight into the role and duties of our officers. The Department’s volunteers exemplify the County’s values of Integrity, Collaboration, Excellence, and Stewardship.

            In 2013, the Department offered the first two Citizen’s Forensic Academies. The forensic academy is an opportunity for citizens to gain a better understanding of crime scenes and collecting evidence. The Academy is hands on learning. The participants learn the proper way to take crime scene photographs, lift fingerprints, collect DNA as well as the law regarding entering crime scenes. The Forensic Academy is open to anyone who has completed the Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.

            James City County Police Department Policy and Procedure #600 details the priorities of the Community Services Unit; those priorities are to provide security surveys to residences and businesses develop and maintain Neighborhood and Business Watch programs, provide crime prevention programs to businesses, and provide crime prevention education to citizens. The Community Services Unit is working to increase the number of security surveys and Neighborhood and Business Watch programs and meetings. Crime prevention education and training for citizens and businesses was the focus of much of the activity in 2013.

            Marketing and promoting crime prevention services, especially services like security surveys and watch groups, continues to be a top priority for the Community Services Unit. Because the citizenry has a low fear of crime it makes it increasingly difficult to market much of our crime prevention efforts, such as home and business security surveys.  In 2013, 17 home security surveys, 7 business security assessments and 8 school security assessments were completed.  Our goal for the coming year is to continue providing the services that we have, but to also increase these services. The Community Services Unit will accomplish this by continuing our good relationship with neighborhoods and businesses. We will also look to continue our outstanding communication with the citizenry in order to enhance the spirit of community policing.

 

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