Paul Gonzales, Coppell crime prevention officer, says policing is about relationships. For the Coppell Police Department, building relationships is a continuing effort for officers.
Tuesday, Coppell took part once again in National Night Out, with 83 block parties participating. Gonzales said about 25 teams of officers along with the fire department and the city council, were out visiting communities and connecting with residents.
Gonzales said the event is a big help with building community.
“It (National Night Out) shows how much we care about our community, and it shows how much the community cares about us,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said the night was a success, but it’s just one of the many ways officers build relationships.
Like many agencies, Coppell hosts Coffee with a Cop, where the community can meet with officers, share coffee and snacks and have casual conversation.
The police department also hosts Prayer at the Flagpole, a quarterly event where residents meet at Town Center to pray for the city’s first responders.
Last year, the police department held its first community engagement forum. The event was held in hopes of enhancing the department's partnership with the community. Attendees heard from the mayor, police chief and other leaders, and they had a chance to speak directly with officers.
In addition, the department utilizes social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to residents, keep them informed and remind them of safety practices such as Lock, Take, Hide.
In addition, the department recently joined Ring by Neighbors to allow residents to share their home video footage to assist in investigations.
Building connections, Gonzales said, is what helps those safety messages stick with the community.
“I think they take it to heart when we establish these relationships,” he said.
Women’s self-defense classes are offered by the department, including a senior high school girls program, providing another way to engage the community.
For some community programs, participation has risen.
For example, Gonzales said he’s seen a large growth in the number of volunteers who take part in the Citizens on Patrol program.
He said the program started in 2015 when it had 13 active volunteers and 506 volunteer hours were logged. As of Wednesday, the program has 45 active volunteers who have logged about 4,600 hours.
“We’re pretty blessed,” Gonzales said. “Here the community is very involved.