Guest blog by Chief John Jackson, MCJ, Greenwood Village Police Department
In a time when the stakes have never been higher regarding the sense of safety and security in your environment, it is the role of Public Safety, both Police and Fire, to fill this need. There are a few sections of a community where being and feeling safe is paramount to not only maintain itself, but more importantly, grow and sustain the community in the future. The Greenwood Village Police Department believes the next level of community policing involves the development of relationships which focus on enhancing the backbone of what constitutes our communities. We have identified those as our schools, our neighborhoods, the business community, and our faith-based institutions. This article will outline and highlight each of those areas and their importance to the Public Safety pieces of the fabric in which a community not just gets through, but thrives.
By all accounts, if the schools in a community are not safe, there is little chance that a community can be strong. In January of 2014, senior level leaders with the City of Greenwood Village met with the Superintendent of the Cherry Creek School District and key members of his staff. During that meeting, we outlined how the Greenwood Village Police Department and the Cherry Creek School District were going to launch an effort to improve the safety of schools and implement a standard response protocol for any active or passive threat situation on any of the Cherry Creek School properties. The primary areas of focus of the initiative were: establishing a common response protocol, to define access control protocols and procedures, to establish common mapping protocols, to define emergency command center protocol and procedures and to establish collaborative Public Safety relationships that would endure time.
The Cherry Creek School District is served by five police departments and three fire agencies. To ensure a timely and coordinated response to potential crisis situations, it is critical that all agencies share common language and protocols with the District schools, regardless of official jurisdiction. The group was charged with identifying and subsequently implanting a standard response protocol for these key areas. When seconds matter, different language and protocols cannot be allowed to slow our response.
I am proud to say that during a recent leadership meeting, we came to the point in which we acknowledged that all the initiative areas, which were identified as key areas of focus, are mainly completed. By the start of the 2017-2018 school year, the operative plan will be fully in place. I would be remiss not to mention the significant financial and time investments that the Cherry Creek School District has devoted to this with all their Public Safety partners. This initiative will have long lasting impacts on the safety of the children who attend the Cherry Creek Schools for years to come.
The Greenwood Village Police Department partners with our neighborhood association groups to provide a level of service which exceeds expectations. A few highlights would be how we partner each year in riding in the neighborhood parades on the Fourth of July, handing out “glow sticks” on Halloween to all the kids who are out trick or treating, and attending neighborhood meetings both regularly and when issues arise. We pride ourselves on keeping staffing levels at a point where we can spend considerable time in our neighborhoods both connecting with families and dealing with issues which are important to them, yet maybe not even criminal in nature. By offering proactive crime prevention services to all citizens, we have found that a direct correlation to improved Public Safety and enhanced safety awareness allows us to maintain very low crime and injury accident rates.
The model of business continuity and safety for all employers and employees is perhaps one of the most talked about issues which we receive questions about today. There is no question that the business population of Greenwood Village is strong and a major part of the City of Greenwood Village. The Greenwood Village Police Department has recognized this importance and has begun the process of partnering with employers to provide both training for their staff and site surveys to enhance operational safety and our response strategies. This proactive approach is unique in how we can connect with both employers and employees at the same time, on different levels. We take every opportunity to engage with the business community, even future businesses by becoming involved in the building process to include the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Each year, we grow the number of training classes that we host at business locations. To date, we have conducted 35 of these collaborative training sessions across sectors such engineering firms, banks, churches and synagogues, concert venues, financial institutions and shopping areas. We have received excellent reviews from theses training sessions which are provided at no cost to all.
As we come to understand more of the intricacies of how advanced technologies are playing a role in our lives, we are maximizing the importance of weaving these advanced technologies into how we keep the Village safe. We have found that working smarter and more connected is much more advantageous than working harder. Whether we are using a “smart” traffic control program to evenly and efficiently disperse traffic from a large concert event or issuing citations in an electronic format, we have found the collection of useful data is what allows us to make purposeful decisions with the deployment of our police resources. We are currently in the process of moving from managing all electronic communication within the police department from email to one central cloud-based platform where all data and communications are gathered for all police department personnel to consume. We are now working smarter versus harder through a very focused strategic resource deployment process.
A vital component of the Greenwood Village Police Department is the Greenwood Village Police Foundation. The Foundation has adopted the nurturing role of being a Public Safety laboratory which has created incredible synergy and initiatives while opening some unique doors and opportunities which would not exist without the fine citizens who serve on our Board. The equipment that they have helped us acquire directly correlates to greatly improved officer safety and better physical health. I truly believe there are many reasons for the outward success which we have achieved and it should not be a surprise to anyone that it is the people of Greenwood Village who make the community the fine place that it is. Each day, we set out to make a difference, and I truly feel that in many ways, we are.