We Usually Leave Horn Tooting To Cars
Protection And Service – By MPO Jim Whitman, Winter Park Police Department
Recently, one of our officers, Chris Belcore, was given an assignment for his Community Engagement class while he attains a master’s degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership. The assignment tasked Chris to examine the Winter Park Police Department’s current practices and policies and compare them to the recommendations put forth by the 21st Century Policing Task Force Pillars initiated by President Barack Obama. The six identified pillars: Building Trust and Legitimacy within the Community, Policy and Oversight, Technology and Social Media, Community Policing and Crime Reduction, Officer Training and Education, and Officer Safety and Wellness.
Officer Belcore made an immediate correlation between the six pillars and the department’s core values of Courage, Dedication, Excellence, Integrity and Professionalism. The department continues to work with our community to build trust and legitimacy through its partnerships with numerous businesses; actively participating in functions at every level of school, from elementary to college; and the use of body-worn cameras to improve transparency. Programs such as Save Our Sons, Cops and Kids, in addition to Coffee with a Cop, have helped foster relationships throughout the City.
The second pillar, Policy and Oversight, is accomplished through regular reviews of policy and procedures, which have earned “Excelsior” ratings from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. All policies are reviewed by the citizen-led Civil Service Board and are available for review by all of the officers on the department’s on-line policy system.
The third pillar, Technology and Social Media, is addressed through the department’s presence on multiple platforms of social media and through the use of our Computer Aided Dispatch system which not only aids with the dispatch of officers but allows neighboring agencies to communicate and share information amongst themselves.
Community Policing and Crime Reduction is the fourth pillar. The Department’s commitment to the Citizen’s Police Academy, Neighborhood Advisory Committee meetings, business and residential security surveys, and community presentations are examples of fulfilling this pillar.
The fifth pillar is Training and Education. The Winter Park Police Department has always recognized the necessity and value of training by providing the ability for its officers to attend the most up-to-date classes in the field of Law Enforcement. Officers interested in obtaining college degrees are allowed to attend classes while on-duty, providing it does not interfere with daily staffing minimums and those classes are eligible for reimbursement.
Pillar six, Officer Safety and Wellness, has been addressed through quarterly “block” training to ensure officers are proficient in the use of weapons and tactics. Annual physicals that include “stress tests” are mandatory. Furthermore, a wellness plan was enacted, allowing officers to work out in the on-site gymnasium up to two hours per week during their shifts. A Peer to Peer Support team and a Critical Incident Stress Management team are available to assist officers with their mental fitness.
Officer Belcore intimated that upon receiving this assignment, he thought that this would be an arduous task trying to find examples that matched each pillar. However, while examining the department’s policies and procedures, his fears of matching examples to each pillar quickly changed to frustration as he now had to figure out how to pare down so many of our successes and matches so that he wasn’t writing a novel.
We want to thank Officer Belcore for reminding us that the Winter Park Police Department is not only a great place to work but a department that leads the way in Central Florida Law Enforcement!by