Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser is taking the community policing model, pioneered over the past three years at the Carthage Police Department, for a trial run in rural Jasper County.
Kaiser talked to the Jasper County Commissioners on Tuesday about his plan to have officers target an area of rural Jasper County south of Carthage, make contact with every residence in the area and find out their concerns regarding law enforcement.
“It's very similar to what Carthage is doing,” Kaiser said. “We've changed it a little bit because the dynamics of a municipality are different from a rural area. I haven't found any other sheriff's department that's doing this so we're making it as we go along.”
Kaiser said the first targeted area for this project will be the south county line to Cedar Road and County Road 120 to County Road 190.
Kaiser said the Sheriff’s Office identified a target area of the county that currently has a high volume of criminal activity and calls for service.
Jasper County deputies will be assigned a section of the target area and make it their goal to contact every resident in that area.
Each deputy will have approximately 12 residences in their area. It is estimated that 230 residents will be included in this target area.
Upon making contact with the residents, deputies will let them know that we are willing to partner with them to solve ongoing problems, anticipate future problems and utilize their efforts to reduce crime in their neighborhood.
“I am very optimistic that it will effect positive change in our crime numbers and that we can be the model of this program for other departments to use in the future,” Kaiser said. “In law enforcement we have spent many years doing business the same way, in a reactive manner. I believe that taking a proactive approach makes a lot of sense and will significantly impact our communities.”
Carthage initiated its Team Policing project two years ago and has targeted at least four different sections of the city for special attention.
In each section, officers goes door to door, making contact with every resident who wants to speak to him, asking about each person's concerns regarding crime and law enforcement.
The officers also help identify other problems, not related to law enforcement, in an area that may help the residents of that area take more pride in their neighborhoods. With the help of local churches, the Carthage Police Department has led cleanup efforts and block parties in each section they've targeted, and conducted surveys to see if the effort has had an affect on crime, calls for service and the residents' perception of crime in their neighborhood.
Kaiser said he's planning surveys similar to those being conducted in Carthage, but he doesn't have any numbers as yet because it is too early in his project.
Page 2 of 2 - “We've started in our first two full weeks of it and so far we've had very positive responses from the people we've contacted,” Kaiser said. “People are very happy to see that we're taking an interest in the things that are going on out in that area. It's in the initial phases of it so we don't have a lot of numbers back yet as far as from our studies that we're doing. I anticipate that we'll have a significant reduction ultimately in actual crime numbers as well as fear of crime and calls for service.”