News: Fort Carson patrol focuses on community issues
Story by Andrea Stone
FORT CARSON, Colo. - Fort Carson residents may have noticed some changes in policing around their neighborhoods. Since summer, a team of 12 special reaction team police officers have been conducting walking patrols in certain villages and barracks.
Recently, they canvassed Navajo Village, following up on complaints from residents about possible vandalism problems. The officers spent hours over several days walking through the village, meeting people and talking with residents about what they’d seen and experienced.
“Our directed patrol is to go in and saturate an area to decrease crime and build community relations,” said Mark Crozier, Fort Carson police chief. “We take all the (information) from patrols, from the detectives, from the mayors, and then we prove or disprove … and then come up with solutions over the long term to fix it because some problems, especially neighborhood problems, you can’t fix by just showing up the first day.”
Not only do SRT officers get out of their cars to conduct walking patrols, they also wear a different uniform, a dark green jumpsuit.
“I want people, (especially) kids, to see the difference between the two so they’ll … be more comfortable to talk to us,” Crozier said. “We’re trying to be more approachable so we build a better relationship with the community and with the kids.”
Directed patrol is just one of the changes in policing on the installation. In addition, there are two community service officers per shift to take reports and respond to minor crime, such as stolen bicycles or isolated incidents of vandalism.
“(The primary patrols) are out looking for crime. They’re proactive. They’re looking for cars speeding before they have an accident. They’re looking for drunk drivers before they hurt somebody,” Crozier said. “The community service officers, they’re taking business that’s already happened so that my patrols can stay proactive. Now, directed patrol takes it one step further. Directed patrol is my proactive, hands-on neighborhood cops.”
Separating police functions into separate areas allows them to do more with less.
“Directed patrol allows us to provide a tool to that problem set that we normally wouldn’t be able to do with just the amount of patrols that we normally have on a day-to-day basis. They give us that beefed-up capability to find solutions,” said Master Sgt. Michael Cordery, installation provost sergeant.
SRT police officers would also respond to an active shooter or hostage situation. Directed patrol is what they do when they aren’t actively training for those emergency situations.
“(Directed patrol) is good for the officers, too, because it’s teaching them perception. It’s teaching them people skills. It’s teaching them body language, teaching them situational awareness,” Crozier said.
And the new patrol is seeing results.
“We have been able to take some major problems in the barracks and zero them with saturation,” he said.
In dealing with the issues in the villages, not every situation involves a crime.
“Some things aren’t really police problems, but they’re community problems … so our (goal) is to help find solutions at a neighborhood level,” said Crozier. “We’re like referees.”
“What we want is resolution. We want everybody to feel like we’re hearing their problem,” he said. “We think we should solve the problem to make the community a better place to live.”