The Chelsea Police Department (CPD) and City Manager Tom Ambrosino have re-affirmed a commitment to walking patrols by police officers throughout the main streets and “hot spots” in the City, according to comments and recent directives from Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes.
Those patrols would come on the Impact Patrol assignments and would entail officers parking their cruisers and walking for at least one hour every shift.
Ambrosino said one of his first conversations with Chief Kyes about crime focused in on his desire to have walking patrols throughout the City. Ambrosino said that while some dispute the impact of walking patrols on reducing crime, he was convinced that it helps to make the general public feel more safe.
“I have made it clear to the chief that I am a strong proponent of walking patrols,” said Ambrosino. “I think they really make a different in public perception regardless whether they have any impact on crime reduction. It’s important to see the police out on the streets walking. That’s something I’d picture for the downtown area and anywhere where there’s a need for more police visibility.”
Chief Kyes said this week that he and the department are committed to walking patrols on a regular basis and on every shift.
“We are absolutely committed to a visible walking presence in our community,” said Kyes. “We will be having Flash Light Walks with residents from Neighborhood Watch Groups as well.”
Flash Light walks have become growingly popular in many cities and towns and include police officers and residents/neighborhood watch groups walking the streets after dark with flashlights as a way to show ownership of the neighborhood. The Boston Police Department has used the effort to some success this summer in many neighborhoods of that city.
Kyes has also come up with a plan and some directives to the officers as how to conduct such walking patrols.
“Until such time as we are up to par with staffing we have decided that each unit assigned to a cruiser on the Patrol Division shall spend at least one hour each shift walking (depending on the calls for service this time may be extended) in a designated area defined as a hot spot based on current department crime data and increased calls for service,” wrote the chief in a directive last week. “It is essential that we maintain a strong visible presence on foot in the areas that we designate as generating the highest volume of calls for service especially as these calls pertain to violent crime. We have to be mindful that we not only strive to reduce and control overall crime in our city, but also fear of crime as well. Our residents want to see us walking in our/their neighborhoods and in being responsive to their needs we shall adhere to this important form of policing as a priority of the CPD.”
The rules for officers suggest that the walking patrols should be done as part of the Impact Patrol assignments, and broken up into two, 30-minute stints. It will be a sort of “park and walk” patrol, as officers assigned to cruisers will be parking the cruiser and getting out to walk.
Officers on such patrols will be required to wear full uniforms to include the police hat.
“It serves to enhance your command presence,” wrote the chief.
Officers are encouraged to spend 80 to 90 percent of the time that they’re walking interacting with the law abiding residents and children in the neighborhoods and on the main streets.
“Feel free to stop and talk with as many of them as possible and have them join you walking the neighborhood if they are so inclined to do so,” added the chief.
The chief also cautioned and suggested those on walking beats only spend about 10 to 20 percent of their time engaging in proactive law enforcement, such as stops, searches and inquiries. However, he did encourage officers to make legal stops when there is reasonable suspicion, arrests when there is clear probable cause and to engage in conversations when officers have a hunch something is wrong.