IFPD begins neighborhood patrol program in select communities
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IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls Police Department wants to be more available to citizens by serving members of the public through its neighborhood patrol program.
While the department would like to serve many neighborhoods in the area, only two were selected due to a significant number of calls for services and incidents according to a news release.
In addition to the patrolling already happening in Idaho Falls, officers Dustin Howell and Justin Graham have been selected to serve in the patrol program. Howell will be responding to calls in the neighborhood surrounding Kate Curley Park. Graham will be over calls in the Highland Park area.
Howell says the neighborhoods they watch over aren’t as large as a regular coverage area, but they do span about a square mile.
“We just want to get out of the cars and get on bikes, on our feet, get out and rub shoulders with the neighborhood … and try to mitigate some of these problems we’re having in these neighborhoods,” Howell says.
Similar programs have been implemented around the country and have proven to decrease crime rates when there is a consistent and visible officer in addition to normal patrol officers who serve in the area, the release states. Howell told EastIdahoNews.com they had similar programs at the department in the past and decided to try it again.
“Just due to manpower we’d like to start back up again,” Howell says. “We’re starting small and hopefully in the future, we’re going to be able to expound and get more neighborhoods and more officers.”
Regular patrol officers become familiar with areas in town but aren’t able to spend extra time in specific neighborhoods due to a high volume of calls.
As traditional calls come in from these assigned areas, Howell says the designated patrol officer will typically respond.
“When it comes to traditional police interactions if a person calls 911 or the non-emergency line, it is often due to an emergency or high-stress experience in a person’s life. People in these situations can be comforted by being familiar with the officer responding,” IFPD Spokeswoman Jessica Clements says in a news release.
While community neighborhood watch programs are citizen-driven, the officers can offer training and advice and act as liaisons between community programs and the department, officials say.
Patrol officers Howell and Graham introduced themselves to the community during the annual National Night Out event at Kate Curley Park and Highland Park Tuesday.
“We wanted to get out and start developing those relationships with citizens within our community,” Howell says. “I’m really excited for this program.”