By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Jasper County deputies have taken community policing to the country.
Sheriff Randee Kaiser said the goal of a project started recently is to encourage residents cooperating in reducing crime in an area in the south central part of the county.
The program has been started as a trial with plans to extend it to other areas, he said.
“It’s going very well, we’ve gotten a lot of positive reaction from the community so far,” he said.
The area targeted for the project is from the south county line north to Cedar Road, between County Road 120 and 190, which includes the Fidelity area. He said the area was selected because it now has higher rates of calls for service.
“One thing we’ve been trying to drive home with residents is that people can become desensitized and don’t call when they see suspicious activity,” he said. “We’re trying to encourage them to be aware of what’s going on and to let us know if they see something. That can be a deterrent to crime.”
Kaiser said the program in some ways is modeled after community policing programs that have started in communities such as Carthage, where he earlier was assistant police chief.
He said it differs from an in-town effort in that residents are more spread out and sometimes less able to keep an eye on their neighbors’ property.
“And a lot of people are in the country because they want to be left alone and to mind their own business,” he said. “And that’s fine, but we hope it doesn’t happen to the exclusion of helping their neighbor if they see something out of the ordinary.”
Kaiser said deputies are going to each house in the area, with deputies assigned to make contacts at least 10 to 15 homes. In talking to residents, he said, deputies “will let them know we’re willing to partner with them to solve any ongoing problems or prevent future problems, and that we want their help in reducing crime in their neighborhood.
“And if we see a need that may not be a traditional law enforcement need, they’ll try to make the resident aware of the resources like social service agencies available to them they might now know about,” he said.
He acknowledged there could be some initial suspicion among residents when deputies come knocking on their doors. But he said the model for law enforcement always has been to react to problems, rather than trying to anticipate or prevent them.
“So, if a deputy shows up, there can be the assumption there’s a problem,” he said. “What we’re trying to establish is that we can be pro-active, and help prevent problems.”
The project is expected to last two months.
Kaiser also announced he had designated a department position to ensure that residents are contacted after they make a report or are the victims of a crime. The officer will contact residents when deputies have pursued all leads in a case to inform them of the outcome or determine if the resident has any more information.