In July 2008 the City of Palm Springs started a program called “Neighborhood Policing Officer” (NPO). The Police Department's nine sergeants (supervisors) and 44 patrol officers joined forces with the 22 neighborhood organizations at that time to form a team.
The Police Department assigned two officers to each neighborhood and a sergeant was assigned to supervise two or three different neighborhoods. The Department's three lieutenants (managers) each took a particular area of the City. Lt. John Booth took the north part of the City. Lt. Dennis Graham took downtown and the southwest part of the City and Lt. Don Fallon took everything east of Sunrise Way. As more neighborhood organizations formed, the Police Department added some of the K-9 officers, motorcycle officers and their DUI Enforcement officer to the NPO program.
The idea is that when the police officers needed help catching a criminal, the NPO could e-mail the leaders of the neighborhood with the information; and the leadership would send it out to all the residents. In addition, when a resident needed non-emergency help, they would have an officer or sergeant to ask.
Pictured on the left: PSPD Officer Stephanie Hutchinson and Sgt. Frank Guarino discuss policing issues during the Warm Sands Neighborhood Organization's annual meeting on March 26, 2019 at Townie Bagels. On the right, PSPD Sgt. Miguel Torres speaks during the Sonora Sunrise Neighborhood Organization's annual meeting on Jan. 14, 2019 at the Leisure Center.
The program has taken off and is working better than the Police Department had hoped for in most neighborhoods. Here is a brief explanation of how the NPO program works and how it can help you, your neighborhood and our Police Department.
If a resident has a non-emergency issue they can send an e-mail to the police officer or sergeant (supervisor) of their neighborhood. They can either request help, provide information and/or ask a question.
Examples: A broken down car is on their street and it is a hazard. The resident sends an e-mail to their NPOs and, the next day that one of the officers is on-duty, the car is tagged and towed away. Or, let's say there is constant traffic in and out of a house at all hours of the day and night. The visitors only stay for a minute and you suspect drug dealing. You then e-mail your NPO with the information. Here are a few more benefits of the program:
- You've heard that there are several crimes that have occurred near your home. You e-mail your NPO and ask for confirmation or crime stats.
- You are having a yearly neighborhood meeting and would like a presentation on a current crime issue (burglary prevention, identity theft, etc). You e-mail your NPO and ask for their help with a speaker.
However, DO NOT E-MAIL YOUR OFFICER TO REPORT AN EMERGENCY. Your officer may be on vacation, sick or on his or her days off. Your officer would hate to get back from vacation and find an un-read e-mail that one of their residents has a prowler in their backyard and the police are needed immediately.
If the NPO needs help or wants to distribute important crime tips, he or she can send an e-mail to his or her neighborhood leadership and they can turn right around and send it out to the residents. This gives the police hundreds of extra sets of eyes and ears to catch criminals or to prevent crime.
Examples: The police have a photo of the vehicle being driven by a wanted criminal. The NPO e-mails the photo to his or her neighborhood organization asking the residents to call the police should they see the suspect.
- There is a common MO involving a residential burglar. The NPO sends the information out to his or her neighborhood.
- An adjoining neighborhood is experiencing vandalism and your NPO e-mails the neighborhood leaders asking the residents to be vigilant in reporting any suspicious activity.
If a resident has a problem or question, they should e-mail the sergeant and officers. One of them will e-mail you back on their next work day. If you do not get a response back, send that e-mail to the lieutenant. Because this program has been so successful, the Code Enforcement Department has also joined the NPO/ONE-PS program.
For new neighborhood organizations, please send an e-mail introducing yourself to the NPOs assigned to your neighborhood. Ask any questions you may have and invite the officers and sergeants to stop by and meet you. For those neighborhood organizations that already know about the program, but have newly assigned NPOs, please send an e-mail introducing yourself and invite them to your next meeting.
The NPO program works great, but we welcome your suggestions to improve it. If you think of other components that we can add, please e-mail Lt. Gus Araiza.
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