ORLANDO, Fla. — Amid the calls for police reform echoing around the country, the Orlando Police Department is resurrecting a community policing program to build relationships and hopefully bring down crime.
What You Need To Know
- Orlando Police resurrecting Community Patrol Unit
- It's funded with $1.25 million federal COPS grant
“They cleaned this area up real good, they did a good job and fast,” Nathaniel Corbett said.
Nathaniel Corbett remembers a time when the Orlando Police Department was out in full force in the Parramore neighborhood. That was more than 10 years ago, when the department’s Community Patrol Unit was still around, connecting with people to make a difference.
“It's for the betterment you know, saving their lives and keeping them out of jail,” Corbett said.
After more than a decade hiatus, Neighborhood Patrol Unit is back thanks to a $1.25 million COPS or Community Oriented Police grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Police Chief Orlando Rolon says the agency will put at least 10 new officers on the street and assigned to a special unit.
“Officers are assigned to neighborhoods to not only address the activity that has taken place, it may be higher than other areas when it comes to crime, but more important to build relationships,” Rolon said.
They're relationships that Rolon says are everlasting. He knows first-hand about the impact of the unit, having served years ago during the height of the program’s initial run.
“The relationships we built with the youth during that time still to this day, some of those now adults come to us and my partner at the time, George Montgomery, to say, 'hey how are you doing, this is what’s going on,' and to see that is priceless,” Rolon said.
This addition of officers comes at a time when calls for police reform echo throughout the U.S.
Rolon says he hears those calls and his team is working to improve community and police relationships. While community policing is still not a mandate for the department, he says they will do their best not to pull these officers.
He says reducing crime will also be a primary focus for these officers, reduce crime and bring peace, which Nathaniel Corbett says is long overdue for both the people in the community and law enforcement.
“If they talk more instead of rushing into things, I think it would be better,” Corbett said.
Those new officers are expected to assume their new roles starting now through the remainder of the year.